I Listened To The Deepest Ache Of My Heart And Booked A One-Way Flight

Leo Hildago
Leo Hildago

In December, 2015, I exploded my life, and booked a one way ticket to the Galapagos Islands.

I had been living very contentedly. I had a reliable partner, a beautiful apartment and a steady job. I had successfully filled the “happiness” pie chart with all of the societally sanctioned pieces of pie. However, I wasn’t happy. I was content. I was complacent. I was stagnating. I described myself to my friends as a “lazy cat lying in the sun”.

In my most honest and mindful hours, I knew on a subconscious level that something was amiss. In these hours, I knew that the lazy house cat I described yearned to be something wilder, running at breakneck speed through dazzling scenery, boldly exalting in freedom and adventure.

However, it took me an exceedingly long time to actually confront myself. I was too afraid, for quite a while, to come to terms with the fact that I was not truly happy, because to acknowledge this would subsequently require me to change almost everything about the way I was living. So, I remained in denial for a long time. Denial was so much easier and safer than full, unbridled self- honesty.

It actually wasn’t until I made a new friend who challenged my complacency that I was able to come full circle on my thinking. He pointed out, quite simply, that he didn’t think I was living my most authentic life. In that moment, I finally looked deeply and honestly within myself, and I knew that he was right. This was a deeply painful revelation.

The most important revelations often are.

I ended my relationship, I took a hiatus from my job, I moved out of my perfect apartment, I put all my stuff in storage, I took out my big old green backpack, and I booked a one way ticket to the Galapagos islands.

I was scared beyond belief in the months before the trip. I spent a lot of days crying, doubting my decision, and yearning for the ease and comfort of my previous life. At the same time, I was thrilled beyond belief, and relieved, even. I was thrilled for my upcoming adventure and excited by this new opportunity to engage with myself.

I was relieved because it was as if I had finally come up for air from a life that was not bringing me fulfillment.

From an experience standpoint, my trip through South America was unbelievable. I swam with ancient sea turtles in the Galapagos islands, I communed with sassy llamas at Machu Picchu, I marveled at the surreal beauty of the Bolivian salt flats, I fell in love with the cobblestone calamity of Valparaiso. I intimately remember standing underneath the sunset- lit mountains of San Pedro de Atacama and crying with sheer ecstasy as I beheld the most breathtaking beauty I had ever seen in my life. I encountered infinite beauty, in the scenery, in the journey, and in the kindness and warmth of foreign strangers.

On a personal level, my journey yielded everything I hoped it would, as well. I developed self- sufficiency, I became much more comfortable being on my own, and I cultivated new hobbies.

I am back now, and I occasionally miss the ease and comfort of my old life. However, much more often, I am thankful that I ripped off a painful bandage to reveal the new skin trying to breathe underneath. Furthermore, I am so much more creatively inspired and productive now. I am more energized. I am more excited. Friends comment that I seem like a more vibrant version of my prior self.

I am so thankful that I was able to finally be honest with myself. I have learned a valuable lesson, and have vowed to be more self-aware, as I move forward. After all, we do our best to treat those we love with honesty.

If we love ourselves, why not do the same? TC mark

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