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I had to be broken so I could meet you.

It couldn’t have happened any other way.

My heart had to be splintered, smashed, just short of shattering completely.

I had to fly low and dive deep.

I had to let myself disintegrate into wounded ashes.

Yes.

 

I had to be broken so I could meet you.

Because I didn’t learn to be myself until I was broken.

The exquisite elixir of vulnerability transformed me.

It opened my eyes and unlocked my heart.

 

I had to be broken so I could meet you.

Because those jagged shards became beautiful as they opened up new space in my fragile heart.

Space that wasn’t there before.

Space I didn’t know about.

Space that your heart needed so it could entangle entirely with mine.

 

I had to be broken so I could meet you.

And you had to be broken, too.

Because when our shattered hearts saw each other for the first time,

They were wise and knew this was real.

We both breathed in, and by the time that inhale transformed into an exhale,

I was yours and you were mine.

A simple transformation, a beautiful alchemical exchange.

 

I had to be broken so I could meet you.

Of course, I was broken all along.

I just didn’t always know it.

Of course, you were broken all along.

You just didn’t always know it.

But, it’s so lucky we were both destroyed—

Because our fragile hearts slid perfectly together between those sharp shards.

Now fused permanently with glossy golden ribbon,

Our formerly tattered hearts smile and sunbathe in bliss.

Pure bliss.

 

I had to be broken so I could meet you.

Because being broken made me courageous.

And I needed to be brave enough to show you my flaws,

Which are actually the things you love the most.

And you needed to be brave enough to show me your flaws,

Which are actually the things I love the most.

 

I had to be broken so I could meet you.

Because brokenness made me real.

You had to be broken so you could meet me.

Because brokenness made you real.

And, what we both wanted

More than anything

Was to be

Real.

 

Author: Sarah Harvey

The hello my friend game – Northern Africa

At the time of this writing (February 2014) there have not been the usual amounts of tourists in Morocco, Tunisia or Egypt – which means for you fellow backpacker, that there are many more “tourist guides” then there are tourists. It is almost impossible to walk down the street as a solo female backpacker without being accosted by several local business men – and I call them business men because they are all business.

pyramids, hello my friend

“Where are you from? Welcome to Alaska!”

It goes like this – you leave your hostel and walk down the street to just go and see the city, or grab something to eat, and in the first 2 minutes you are approached by a friendly, smiling man asking you “Where are you from my friend?” which seems harmless enough right? Yea, then he gently says to you, “Come my friend, let me offer you some tea” – and if you refuse, the next thing you hear is “Oh please, do not insult me, it is my tradition, my way – come please, have a tea with me, I want to welcome you to Alaska” (which is a common joke in Cairo Egypt). If you do agree, what happens next is this man will take you into some shop (usually selling perfumes, art, and a range of other things) and have you sit down while he prepares some tea. After he serves you tea, then comes the sales pitches- and they are good- really, really good. They will try to sell you anything.

When you are a backpacker, not a traditional come to visit a city and go home tourist, you have no intention usually of picking up items that one, you don’t need, and two, won’t fit in your pack anyway. I understand that people need to make a living and can definitely respect this, but after hearing this same thing over and over and hoping that one of them- just one- would actually like to sit and just talk about their city or ask about yours without this ever happening. . . for me, was a turn off. I have learned now to politely ignore these business men and just keep moving on to explore the city without being asked to buy something more, and that when I walk with someone else and not alone it happens less frequently.

There was one time in Morocco where I was taken on a “tour” in which I was promised to be shown the palace, where the Berber people made their handicrafts, and through the maze of alley ways and coffee houses in the old city. On this “tour” what I was taken to was shop after shop after shop in which many different people tried to sell me many different things. After telling my “tour guide” over and over again that I was not interested in buying anything other than the price of the tour to see the city, I finally did buy something – a gift for my sailing mate and his boat. I then told the man that this gift would be the only thing I would buy, and to please show me the city as that is what I paid for.

berber rugs, morocco

In a berber handicraft warehouse – Morocco. Yes, I bought one.

And guess what happened next? The tour was suddenly over- once we got into the car we headed straight back to the marina where the boat was docked. No palace, no nothing that was promised which was quite a disappointment. I later learned that these “guides” are earning commissions from the stores on everything a tourist that they bring there buys, and their only intention is to get you to spend money, not to show you their beautiful country…

Lessons learned?

First, it’s not the time to travel alone in Egypt as a female backpacker apparently unless you want to play the hello my friend game (I was never approached again after I started traveling with Fabrice, a gentleman I picked up at the Dahab hostel who ended up being loads of fun along with agreeing to be filmed for the Spare Some Change Tour. You can meet him here :)

Second, to be weary of “tour guides” when your packing, and do what you usually do and go your own way.

What AM I doing here?
Getting lost in order to find yourself.

This journey began two years ago when I found myself wandering around the jungles in Guatemala. During this time as I camped in the insect ridden, dense forests and I would ask myself, “What AM I doing here?” Remembering times past, the clock slowing ticks forward in a new direction, taking me on it’s second hand ride. I reflect on the former times, when I used to laugh with my best friend, when we used to share our stories of triumph and defeat, our smiles and our tears. All the while, the pain of her unexpected and premature departure still grabbing at me like a spiders web grabs it’s prey, holding me paralyzed as I wait to be completely consumed. What AM I doing here?!?!

The last time I hugged my best friend.

The last time I hugged my best friend.

As the days turn into weeks, and the weeks into months, I found myself in more and more countries exploring, learning, sharing, and thinking. And I found myself asking the same questions, and kept struggling with the same pains. Her death had become my catalyst and had catapulted me into a new realm of possibilities, questions, and perceptions. I was now in a place of constant fear versus courage, of egotism versus humility, of disharmony versus peace. And as I traveled on, an internal battle ensued and I continued to ask myself…

What AM I doing here??

Bearing the winters in Northern Europe, the salty Mediterranean Sea, and the heat and emptiness of the Sahara desert, I searched to answer this question. It is not a question of where I am geographically, but it is a question of the heart, a question of the soul. What AM I doing here? One day when my search seems to be going nowhere, I decide to talk with “GOD” as I know it to be, in a place so silent that the only sounds that can be heard are that of my own breath and heartbeat. I pray for the answers to my questions, pray for the insight I need in order to move forward and seek comfort from this pain. I beg for release, I beg for mercy. Please, I ask… please just take this pain from me so that I may move on.

sahara desert africa

Where I camped alone in the Sahara for several days of silence…

With the stroke of what felt like two hands across my head, it suddenly all stopped. The continuous questioning, the relentless past memories, the crippling pain of loss that has plagued me for the past 20 months. I felt it all just… disappear. For the first time on my journey, I felt completely at peace, I felt calm, I felt centered. I thanked this “GOD”, this universal power that heard my pleas, this something that must have been listening to me and had answered my desperate request. After a few days, I noticed that indeed this pain was definitely gone but I still have not found the answer to my most urgent question. What AM I doing here? It seems that removing the pain of loss was only part of my process. There must be more.

I ask for this answer and I sit silently for three days, fasting, meditating, and waiting patiently. And then, I hear some very simple instructions. Rite, Right, and Write. These three words echo through my mind like a children’s preschool song, playing over and over with a harmonious melody in the background. Right. So I am here to continue my rites (or rituals) of peace within myself, and peace on this planet. I am here to make things right. I am here to write.

The note...

The note…

After I return to the village close to this incredible place of silence, I remember the postcards and notes that were given to me as keepsakes two years ago to take with me on this journey. Until now they have remained gently wrapped in plastic and placed in a inconspicuous spot deep within my backpack. I decide to finally read through these beautifully written letters of encouragement and empowerment and my heart starts to beat again. And then it stops. Out of the stack, a post it note falls out that is stuck to a photo of my best friend who is no longer roaming this planet with me. On the paper are the words. You must rite, right, and write.

Cheryl Marie Mickens. RIP my snow angel and soul sista

Cheryl Marie Mickens. RIP my snow angel and soul sista

 

As the tears begin to flow I look into the night sky and give thanks to my friend as now I know that she continues to be with me, even though I can no longer see her. This long journey has returned me to my home. The home within, the home that stays no matter where I go. It is said that people who take off to travel around the world are either running from something, or running toward something. For me, I think it would be both. I was running from the grief, the pain, and the realization that life could end up unexpectedly being very short lived. I was also running towards something – an experience, a clarity, a way to find my true essence, my purpose in this human existence.

 

I do not know what the future holds, but at least now I have the answer to the question – What AM I doing here? Traveling has given me so many lessons, so much insight into the world, and into myself. For it is when you leave everything that is familiar, and venture into the unfamiliar, that you find your truth.