When we expand the limits of our perception with unimaginable experiences we realize our unlimited power. (Letter to myself or the hidden side of traveling)
When I was a little girl I didn't travel and grew up with the idea that traveling wasn’t for me. Later in life I started to change and began opening myself to the possibility that I could travel to any place I wanted like others do. And after some little trips in Europe, the moment of my first big journey arrived, and I went to the other side of the world, to my dream destination, Hawaii.
During this trip I spent three months in The United States, the land which nourished my visual imagery. Living in person all those places made me experience an inexplicable excitement, which was enhanced by being able to capture them; sunsets at Hawaiian beaches, the Golden Gate, the Grand Canyon, Joshua Tree Park, and Route 66, which I drove listening to the soundtrack of Forrest Gump premeditatedly… And experiencing walking the walk of fame in Hollywood Boulevard and realizing that it's not such a big deal, watching a concert in a small venue in Los Angeles besides Devendra Banhart and feeling his vulnerability, having breakfast at a typical american diner where Ezra Koeing was and looking into his eyes without being able to tell him that his music has made me jump with joy, going up skyscrapers and surviving the vertigo and listening to a Blues concert in Chicago with my most beloved friend from childhood… And I remember sitting in the living room table of my house in Hawaii at 6 a.m. writing in my diary how blissful it was being there and I remember that my eyes clouded with tears from taking the journey there and I loved myself for it, a lot.
A year later I took myself on an incredible journey to Thailand which gave inspiration for the next one, and I soon found myself in a little mountain village in north India. This time the journey wasn't as easy as the others because on the way there I experienced fear and anxiety. Fortunately several angels crossed my path and didn’t let me fall. After three airplanes, a taxi with monks, a rickshaw and some minutes walking through rocks and mud and crossing paths with cows I arrived to my new provisional home at the foot of the Himalayas in Dharamshala. And when I took off my backpack and saw myself there, so incredibly far from everything I knew, again my eyes burst into tears and I couldn ́t stop crying. This time I was crying with a feeling of happiness and sadness combined, but with a deep peace. And again, I loved myself, very much.
I also took myself to Australia! When I was a little girl I collected postcards. I remember seeing one from Sydney, and how I was always completely certain that I would ever go there, not even in my dreams, that possibility didn ́t exist in my world. And years later, there I was, traveling by van through the Golden Coast with my life sister photographing the sunrise at Byron Bay, very cold and very grateful.
My intention for my first trip to India was to learn Ayurveda and, for my joy, it was much more than that. And that very same year, without planning it, I had the wedding I always dreamt of and I thought I would never have, on the most beautiful beach in Florida. And I had a first honeymoon in Bali, and another in New Orleans. I write it, I read it, and it seems it wasn ́t me. But yes, I took myself to all of these places and more.
Now, when I see my traveling pictures, I think of that little Mariana who felt incapable of traveling and I love her, and I embrace her, and I get tears of love for bringing her to all those places.
I only needed to believe it. And to believe it I had to create it, and that made me feel powerful and capable.
I don’t think anymore about what I should be or what I should do more of, nor make efforts to be something I’m not or try to do more of what I should do. I observe, accept and give my best, without punishment, while I enjoy all that I love to be, to do and want to do more.
When I accept myself I can introduce myself as I am, without fear of being judged, because the fear of being judged by others reflects our own judgement of ourselves and others. Having said this, I allow myself to say without guilt or unworthiness that the amount of books I have read or left half-read can be easily counted. And I feel released, because when I first confessed this to a friend who is a writer she didn’t judge me but instead explained that I’m a visual person who understands the world through images. This is why the amount of times I’ve appreciated the sunshine gleaming through the leaves of a tree, the golden light of the sunset bathing the facade of a building, the movement of a train crossing the horizon, the magenta hues in the clouds and reflections on a drop of water are in contrast, countless.
Despite not being a big reader, I was lucky enough to come across a book that to me is more like a window, named The Unbearable Lightness of Being, by Milan Kundera. One of the treasures contained in this book is the author’s ideas about being seen. Kundera tells us how we all need someone to look at us, and to explain this he divides looks into four categories. Each category is based on the type of look we want to live under: the public look of unknown eyes, the look of familiar eyes, the look of the person we love, and the imaginary look of absent people.
Whichever category one feels identified with, it seems inevitable to accept that it’s like this; that the engine that moves us is a look that encourages us to do wonderful things but also limits and traps us. And Kundera says that in the dangerous case that those eyes that look at us close, the light goes out... And, in that case, I wonder what remains. I believe that freedom remains, because the less we care about the look of others the more authentic we are.
Personally, I feel that I have always lived under the look of the four categories; of the first three I constantly hope to be told that I’m doing well and seek approval to feel valid. On the other hand, of the fourth, the most precious according to Kundera, I receive inspiration. I dream of the look of people I admire, of my most perfect self and even of creation itself. And this look makes us do incredible things that only dreamers can do, because this last look doesn’t judge, but instead brings out the best in each of us in our yearning to be part of the eternal and inexplicable and to make living worth it.
When we live through the fourth category we realize that we can dance naked on the seashore, because nobody is watching us. We realize that we can show what we create, because we don't do it for a prize. We realize that we can show ourselves as we are, because nobody is judging us. We can laugh with an open mouth, dress weird, express what we feel, cry with an ugly face, hug a stranger, love fully, because we only care about something bigger than ourselves. And we let ourselves flow, and be and do what we love.
And that's when we stop losing our lives. And it is only then that we can say to ourselves:
"I am going to make of this life, which before was a sketch of what could have been, an authentic masterpiece."