Monday arrives in monotonous tones of grey clouds and I sink further under the warm quilt, wrapping myself into a cocoon. Just as I'm wondering how long I can stay here, I feel Pete's arms pulling me out and I can't help but let out a little giggle. Reality gently greets me as I begin to make my way to the kitchen for my usual ritual, chai tea and porridge. This is the easy part of it all. The harder part is facing my morning anxiety, and I'm so eternally grateful for Pete who unconditionally cares for me. My thoughts are tangled and irrational until Pete calms me and hands me my "chill pills" (as I call them), antibiotics for pain, antihistamines so I can eat, and I take them all silently. I look into Pete's eyes with such love and gratitude that we don't need to say anything. And there's a soft spoken look in return that tells me he will always look after me.
I feel vulnerable admitting this is the way my morning begins, but I also think there's something powerful about being completely raw and honest. Some mornings I'm singing and dancing to "Ain't no mountain high enough", and other mornings I take forever to make it to the shower because I'm trapped in a tangle of my own thoughts. Sometimes it's hard to focus on anything. Through all my fear and anxiety, I have found that gratitude is far more powerful. When my mind begins to wander into dangerous spaces, gratitude eventually finds me, and grounds my feet back to earth. I suddenly find myself talking with passion and excitement about all the places, people, and things I love most.
This particular Monday morning, there's something stirring within my body and I have this overwhelming feeling to grab my camera and go... somewhere. Anywhere. I'm buzzing with excitement, and I don't want this feeling to fade. I rush around our little apartment, half dressed, looking for my camera lenses and anything else I need. Pete is spread out on the couch in his jocks, sipping his coffee, with a bewildered expression. "Honey, where are we going?" I throw his pants next to him, "Wherever the road takes us!"
I have learned, in my happiest and my darkest hour, that you can't always plan or predict an adventure. It's like a drug, once you have tasted adventure - you're hooked. Everything and anything seems possible once you travel. It's like opening a thousand doors at once and realising you're not stuck a room with four walls. There is an entire world out there waiting for you to explore, to live, and once you've travelled somewhere (if it's overseas, or an hour away), you understand just how much beauty there is to see.
As we begin our journey on the road, Pete asks me curiously why (out of all days) I want to go now. He must think i'm mad. I shrug and say something about doing what the heart wants. This is partly true... but the real truth is i'm scared. I'm scared of not doing enough of what my heart wants. Each day my heart surgery comes closer and I get a little more nervous. I know full well that I am going to be fine, and I'm in good hands, and so many people remind me. I know. It's not death I'm afraid of. It's not living enough, that I'm terrified of.
I'm not sure if that even makes sense. All I know is that I would rather be somewhere out in a forest, hiking somewhere in the mountains, than sitting in our little apartment feeling sorry for myself and too scared to do anything about it. I have explored the wilderness, trekked through long grass, drifted waist deep in the ocean with my camera firmly in my hands, and nothing - not my anxiety, nor my health - will ever stop me from continuing these adventures. I have learned that I may weak heart but that does not make me weak. I have lived through cardiac arrest before, and it did not break me (nor my spirit!).
I don't say any of this to Pete, but I think he already knows. He's the only person who seems to be able to look at me, as though i'm completely transparent, and knows what I'm thinking or feeling. He grabs my hand and squeezes it tightly. I can see he's carefully planning where we're heading. I tell him that I like that we're kind of opposite; him being organised and wonderfully rational, while I'm spontaneous and a little chaotic at times. "You save me from being too reckless, and I drive you a little crazy - just the right amount." He laughs, and I know he agrees. Together, with all our highs and lows, we keep each other strong.
Eventually I fall asleep, my hand still in his, and an hour later I awake expecting to be somewhere with views of grassy fields or impossibly tall trees or driving near the beach. I realize we're parked at Garden World, and I can't help but beam at Pete. He knows me so well. This is my one of my happiest places (anywhere with flowers, cacti, succulents and all various crystals). I believe wholeheartedly it doesn't matter wherever you travel, as long as your heart is in it, it will bring you joy. It was that exact moment, I realised that my life doesn't always have to be a daring adventure all the time. Any place can bring immeasurable happiness as long as you're surrounded by love, and doing what you love most.