A few months ago our beloved sister Elizabeth Gilbert (of Eat Pray Love) posted a beautiful reminder to Go To The Water* when you are sick, healing, grieving—when you are any or any or all of The Brokens. Liz believes in the healing power of water, and so do I–so much so that I cry a little in my heart every time I remember I live in Cincinnati…
For the geographically challenged, this means I am completely, totally landlocked: the nearest ocean/gulf is a solid 11 hours away.
I’ve been quietly (read: loudly) sulking about this fact ever since we moved back from Norfolk, Virginia, where there was a marina at the end of our street.
I thought many times during my deep depression that life would just be SO MUCH BETTER if only I had an ocean. If I had an ocean, I would be HAPPY. If I had an ocean, I would be SERENE. If I had an ocean, I would be one of those super-fit tan, beautiful, buddha-esque people who run/walk/yoga/journal on the beach. Every day. TWICE A DAY.
The problem in my life was clearly the lack of an ocean, people. So I did the totally responsible thing and ran away. To Bali, Indonesia, where there is nothing but ocean.
I did NOT magically become a super-fit, tan, beautiful, buddha-esque person who ran/walked/yoga-ed/journaled on the beach. Nope….
I went to Bali and had my second full-on breakdown. I cried so much I could have filled my own darn ocean.
*Note:You might be clinically depressed if you wake up every morning in BALI, sobbing*
I came home more broken than I left. Much more broken. (So much for that ocean fantasy.) (DAMN IT!)
I learned you can run, but you can’t hide from yourself. You bring you–and all your problems–with you.
I learned the answer is not the ocean. The answer is, always was, and always will be–me. I KNOW, sooooooo disappointing.
I learned Happiness, peace, courage, health, kindness, serenity do NOT exist on the other side of an ocean somewhere.
I learned everything that matters exists in the here-and-now, in this moment.
I learned that if these things don’t exist in my here-and-now, they will never exist in my then-and-there.
I learned I have to PRACTICE the qualities I want in my life–exactly where I am, exactly as I am.
Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.
So last week when I felt that familiar fantasy-ocean pang:
I started where I was: downtown Cincinnati, in landlocked Ohio.
I used what I had: the Ohio River.
I did what I could: I took myself, my yoga mat, my journal, a camping chair, and coffee to the rocky riverbank, and I watched the sun rise.
And guess what? It was better than Bali, because I AM BETTER than I was in Bali.
It turns out never needed the ocean. I just needed to remember:
When you are Broken: Start where you are.
Keep Couraging ON.
Reba Riley is the author of Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome: One Woman’s Desperate, Funny, Healing Journey To Explore 30 Religions By Her 30th Birthday, the 2016 memoir Elizabeth Gilbert calls: “Hilarious, courageous, provocative, profound…Reba Riley brings the light for seekers of all paths. If Eat Pray Love had a gutsy, wise, funny little sister, it would be Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome.” She is a motivational speaker, blogger, and television contributor. You can find her online on Facebook Instagram Twitter