I’m back in San Francisco after spending nearly a month in Japan, Cambodia and Thailand. Each place was wonderfully unique, and each had a lesson for me.
I started off in Tokyo to visit an 86-year-old friend of mine who used to live in San Francisco. She is an incredibly courageous woman who decided earlier this year to move back to Tokyo after her husband passed away. It had been over 30 years since she had lived in Japan, and, in a sense, she was starting a new life.
We have been friends for several years now, and I thought I had known quite a bit about her and her life. But I learned so much more about her during my visit! Each place we went to stirred up memories for her that she shared with me. It was as if she needed to relive all these aspects of her childhood and young adulthood, and I was more than happy to listen to her. My sense was that by visiting places with me that she hadn’t seen for over thirty years, she was reconnecting with them and herself. As she reconnected, I surmised, she was settling more and more into her new life back in Japan while also sharing a perspective that was, perhaps, fading from the Japanese culture.
We all have wisdom to share with others. Through the telling of our story, we can help others with whatever it is that they are working through at this time. Through the listening of another’s story we not only validate the other person, but we also have the opportunity to learn something and apply it to our lives. I realized that it is important for me to continue to tell my story – in my books, my blog and in person – and to also continue to listen to the stories of others. It is one of the best ways to connect with another and begin to overcome any differences or misunderstandings.
Cambodia was wonderful, but this part of my trip went completely different than how I had planned it to. I was supposed to be picked up at the airport by a specific tuk tuk driver, but wasn’t. One of my dearest friends was supposed to visit me there and take me out to dinner, but he cancelled the day he was supposed to arrive. I wanted to start my trip by visiting Angkor Wat, a huge ancient temple complex and the largest religious monument in the world, but on my first day there was a marathon that ran through Angkor Wat and the crowds were overwhelming. In fact, Cambodia hadn’t even been on my original itinerary – Mongolia was!
And yet, I had a wonderful time and explored temples, ancient sites, floating villages and the city of Siem Reap to my heart’s content. I consciously chose to go with the flow, and by doing so limited my stress. My trip was different from what I had planned but was infinitely better than what I had planned. I even ended up visiting the home of my tuk tuk driver and meeting his family and going to the local primary school to meet with students and teachers. The universe had come up with something better.
My lesson from Cambodia was that it is okay to make plans, they can be necessary, but when they don’t go exactly as planned, it’s important to relax and see how things unfold. They may be even better than you could imagine.
I wrapped up my trip with a visit to Bangkok, Thailand and the surrounding area. I visited some places that I had visited on my last trip, such as Wat Pho, a beautiful temple that also houses fortune tellers (fun!) and a traditional Thai massage school (so relaxing!), and I spent time exploring some new things. Everything went wonderfully smoothly until my last full day there. I had finished writing my second book that day and wanted to treat myself to a visit back to Wat Pho for some meditation and a massage before going out for a nice dinner.
I was leaving Wat Pho and was having difficulty getting a cab. The usual fare to my hotel from there is about 100 Thai baht. None of the cabdrivers would turn on their meters and were quoting me fares of 300-400 baht. This is a fairly common problem in Bangkok, and there are police officer stands at the major tourist sites to help with this. I asked a police officer to get me a cab that would turn on the meter. He did, and soon I was on my way.
Except that the cabdriver wasn’t done trying to scam me. He drove for about five minutes and then pulled over and got out of his cab. He came back a minute later after talking with a fellow cabdriver about where my hotel was located and claimed that he could not drive me because he had to go to the bathroom. I suggested that I would wait while he used the bathroom, if he stopped the meter and restarted it when he got back. I didn’t know where I was and didn’t want to have to try to find another cabdriver. He refused, and we sat there in the cab, not moving.
I sensed that he didn’t really have to go to the bathroom, and that when he realized that my hotel was in a nice part of the city he decided that he wanted more money. My intuition was verified when I called my hotel to have them talk to him (my hotel had told me if I had any problems with a cab driver to call them…I figured this counted as a problem.). He told the hotel that he had to go to the bathroom. When the hotel said I would wait in the car while he went to the bathroom, he again refused. Then he told them that he would only drive me to the hotel if I paid him 300 baht.
My hotel told me that I should get out of the cab and try to get another cab, since the driver was trying to scam me. After getting a photo of his license to report him to the authorities, I got out and eventually was able to hail another cab that agreed to put on his meter.
Once I was back in my hotel room, I connected with my spirit guides and asked them about the incident. They gave me the following message:
Sometimes life brings you difficult things to teach you a lesson or reinforce a behavior. This cabdriver came to you to show you that even when things are not going the way you want them to, even when things are “bad,” you still have choice. You can choose how to respond and take control of the situation and help make it right. You also saw that everything worked out for you. We are always here for you. Don’t forget to ask us to help you. We will help take care of you and help you get out of tricky situations. The important thing to remember is to continually come from a place of love. You can come from a place of love and still be firm in your convictions, as you were today. It is not necessary to point fingers or call names. As long as you stay firm and true to yourself and what is best aligned with your higher self and unconditional love you will be fine. Just as you were today. This entire journey for you has been one of learning to trust even when you don’t know the plan. Even when things seem to be going badly. And even when you feel a bit scared.
The next morning at the airport, I continued to think about the message my guides had given me. I realized that I didn’t need to know exactly what I wanted down to the nth degree. It was enough to know the basics – I want to do shamanic work and teaching globally to help as many people as possible live joy-filled authentic lives – and let the universe help fill in the details. It all boils down to trust..and being willing to jump in without being able to see the safety net that is there for you.
I boarded the plane, willing to continue to jump.
(The picture of me was taken by my tuk tuk driver in Cambodia at West Baray Lake)