The Countdown

I am now in that stage before a major trip, what I call the NASA phenomenon, where I experience pure joy and excitement from the simple act of the countdown.

For every big moment and journey in my life, I have always relished these last few moments before I leap into the unknown. Typically I exercise my incurable perfectionism by writing final to-do lists, packing and re-packing weeks before I leave, and over-researching my destination, whether I’m leaving for my freshman year of college or taking Amtrak 3 hours north to visit my nieces and nephews. However, I also indulge my less-practical, but wildly passionate dreamer side, by engaging in the countdown.

It started last week in its full, unrelenting, day-dreaming glory. A co-worker will ask, Are you excited about your trip? or When do you leave? and immediately I reply, I leave in 23 days and 5 1/2 hours! or something equally precise. I usually take it even further, imagining where I will be in exactly 1, 2,3, even 5 weeks, and what I will be doing.

Q: Are you excited about your trip?

A: So excited! At this time four weeks from now, I’ll be lazing on the glistening shores of the Adriatic and wandering the winding medieval streets of Dubrovnik! At this time three weeks from now, I’ll be gazing at the Doge’s Palace in St. Mark’s in Venice while sipping an espresso. At this time two weeks from now…

It is a game of savoring the delights of the imagination and the unknown possibilities of the impending journey.

I’ve always had a strong practical bent to how I approach the world, engrossing myself in the details, in how I will get to my destination, on the road and in my life. But I have also always harbored this dreamer within, and I am beginning to realize it is a gift to see the world this way, as an open vista of possibilities and adventures, twists and turns, in which I think I know where I will end up, but in which I am always surprised by a new path in the trail.

Fibromyalgia has been one of these surprise twists in my journey, if a sometimes darker and ominous one. I have allowed myself at times to wallow in the shadows of the pain and uncertainty, but as of late, I have also been re-energized by the unknown journey ahead. I want to know what new vista, town, forest, experience lies ahead, and the dreamer in me has begun to open my arms wide and run up into the hills to embrace the fullness of a life of unexpected detours. So maybe this countdown of mine is more than excitement for an upcoming trip to Europe. It just might be the path to healing my spirit after two years of crushing doubt.

17 days, 6 hours, and 43 minutes until I step on the plane to Venice….42 minutes….41….

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About chronictraveler

Chronic Traveler starts as a dream, one that I thought I had lost, but that has slowly changed into a mission to realize and live that dream every day. In December 2007 I became seriously ill and the doctors did not know what was causing my illness. I had to stop teaching as my life tumbled into a never-ending nightmare of doctors, hospitals and tests. Finally, in May 2008 I was diagnosed with a chronic condition - fibromyalgia. I was only 26 years old at the time. I have had to give up teaching, and now work part-time at a performing arts center as I learn how to manage my condition and improve my quality of life. What helped me through the months of uncertainty and sickness, and continues to inspire me, was a new focus on what truly mattered to me: family, friends, gardening, the arts, and especially travel. I have always fed my soul by traveling, ever since I first stepped off the plane at age 16 in Kathmandu, Nepal to help with an orphanage's building project. Meeting new people and experiencing how they live and how they view the world infuses my life with a richness I was so afraid I would lose when the doctor first said, "You have fibromyalgia". This blog is my story, as I begin to forge a new path. I am embracing my life as it is, with the fibromyalgia pain and fatigue, and learning to do what I love regardless. It may mean I have to go slower and take more naps or breaks! But I am determined to learn how to travel and experience the world, and hopefully what I learn will help others like me who believe their medical condition stands in the way of their travel dreams.
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