Warriors of Wanderlust

The rain steadily fell from the sky, slowly soaking the crowd huddled beneath the aged maple tree. I watched with careful attention to the stir of voices, excited laughs, and the silence of those who came alone. I looked up at the arch, the words boldly displayed the internal desires of almost everyone there. The one thing this event represents in full. Wanderlust. To discover your true north through the endless wanderings of self and world discovery.

I looked up at the clouds covering the sky, thinking how six months ago I found the book published by these festival gatherings. Five months ago I signed up for the race. Three months ago I had surgery. One month ago I got injured. And here I stood in the pouring down rain, having only been able to do yoga once in several weeks, and restricted from running for several months. I envied the other runners, but well knowing it was not the time to return to running yet. As the run started, I briskly walked and felt the urgency of runners dodging the slower people. Most kept to their own steady pace as the crowd began to move in one community.

The rain still steadily poured, and for a second I wanted to feel sad. Not because of the weather, but because of my journey. How with every step of feeling better, I seem to get thrown back several steps. Even the night before the event, I almost hurled my guts out in a restaurant due to my body frequently going into shock modes. But then I overheard a gal behind me, who had suffered the same consequence of not being able to run. In just her one sentence, I realized that there were others here who sacrificed greatly just to show up for themselves at this event. How many others have been set back from surgeries, life happenings, unnamed diseases, named intolerances, and the complicated emotional baggage that gets dragged behind every life setback.

When I walked through the arch at the finish, most of the hype of the race was over. MC Yogi looked over and noticed me and simply said, “Welcome back sister” as he reached for a high five. For some reason this struck me. I showed up for myself, even in the pouring down rain and being completely soaked through by the end, I still showed up. If it is anything that participating in marching band helped with, it is the ability to be soaked and only slightly uncomfortable about it.

Before the yoga session started, I struck up conversation with a couple of gals who were friendly and inviting. It was a joy to discuss yogi things, and I even learned a few things about different kinds of mats and a little bit of their life stories. We all recognized how Portland did not disappoint with the weather, as only the die hards were left. After standing in a long line only to give away information for a free tote, they invited me along to practice with them. I nodded eagerly and was thankful for finding sweet people to connect with. We wandered through the slimming crowd and settled in with the rest of the mud pit. Mats already were filled with pools of water. Growing up in Oregon, one prepares for these things, so I laid down my trash bag to deter water seeping from underneath and above.

Wanderlust festivals are all about community, but it was somewhat stifled with the rain. Regardless, I still reached out into warrior three and connected to those around me. My body shook uncontrollably from the cold and the muscles engaging in movement that had long since been hindered. The song ‘Soak It Up‘ by Houses played in the background as the yoga instruction began, which was a song I listened to relentlessly coming back from Thailand. The song somehow shows up when I need to be reminded of the beauty in how far I have come in my journey. I let the tears streak with the rain as I moved through vinyasa flow. I was reminded of how beautiful life can be. As I reached up to see my fingertips touch the sky, I embraced the rain pouring from the sky, I embraced the pain that sought to take my right side, and I embraced compassion for myself.

As the yoga session ended, many people gathered their dripping belongings and scooted off to get dry. The women who invited me to practice next to them, nodded in the reality it was time for them to go, and said farewell. I stayed for the meditation, but was shaking from the cold. Only for a brief moment of stillness I let my mind run blank and felt the rain pitter patter upon my skin. Letting the tears of relief escape my heart. Even though the journey is not over, the festival gave me the courage and the realization that I can keep pressing on. That despite setbacks, there is hope. And one day I will be able to run without fear of injury, dance without fear of pain, and practice yoga without fear of my body caving in.

MacKenzie Miller, who led the yoga session, said that those who stuck out the rain are those that are warriors and are people who are open. Open to life’s experience and hold the spirit of wanderlust. Growing up in Oregon, I have never been to a Portland gathering where it did not rain. But being open to even being in a continuous downpour for four hours is a different kind of openness. It is the kind that prepares you for life’s greater experiences. The kind of perseverance that you can draw upon when life gets too tough to handle. When life seems unbearable, you can hold onto that one peaceful moment of the rain gently streaming with tears of accepting your own journey. Just the way it is.

Being open to life is to be a wanderer. Being a warrior of wanderlust is to believe that you are capable. That you are life. That you are a flow of energy and beauty. And that wherever life takes you, through the grand mountains or the little streams of valleys, that you will be alright. Because you are a wanderer who holds light and love wherever you go. A warrior who can handle any battle. A person who can walk through any storm.

I started the event alone, but ended the event by hugging sweet natured women who share the same love and light that radiates beyond their being. It reminded me once again that we are not alone in this journey. That we are all connected, all sharing pieces of our stories with one another, and all living life the best we can. So walk forward as a warrior of wanderlust and live life in a way that radiates light, love, and community.

Love and Light,

Bethany Jane

p.s. Thank you to all the people who stuck out the Portland weather and made this event possible! Setting up and tearing down soaked tents is never fun, and your work and dedication is appreciated. ❤

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