Lessons from the Laundromat


For the first time in two weeks, everything in my suitcase is fluffy and clean. This includes my jeans, which didn’t take well to my half-hearted handwashing in Tallinn. A clean stack of laundry may not sound like much of a triumph, but considering that a week ago I was in a city with no public laundromats, it is a triumph indeed. Honestly, I had a better day today because I had truly clean clothes.

Logistics matter. They matter a lot.

After what has felt like a very long, very intensive, and of course very scenic meditation session–that’s what it has been like to travel alone for two weeks–I have landed in a thriving artists’ community in the center of Denmark. Here, goods and services abound. I know where I am sleeping tonight, and the next, and the one after that. My mind is no longer racing to solve a thousand logistical questions: What time does the last ferry leave? Where can I use the phone to call the bank to tell them to nix the travel-activated fraud alert on my credit card? Um, seriously … where am I sleeping tonight?

And suddenly, without all of these questions, there is plenty of room in my brain for much juicier things.

When I consider my recent decision to go freelance, I am very aware of the fact that I will enjoy my freedom much more if I am vigilant about certain logistics. This trip has exposed the myriad coping mechanisms that I employ under pressure to handle money, time, and other resources. Some of the trials of travel have made me more confident. Others–like the night I sprung for a $200 hotel room out of sheer exasperation–have only shown me my weaknesses.

The Elizabeth Gilbert book I referred to in my last entry had a terrific line that is worth quoting here. The author’s friend tells her, “Stop wearing your wishbone where your backbone outta be.”

I can apply this advice in several ways. Primarily, it reminds me that I cannot simply center my life around my desires. I have to factor in an honest assessment of my capabilities, too, and brace myself for the load of carrying out those desires. And if I want something reallly badly, I have to be prepared to work my ass off for it.

This will sound really obvious to all the realists out there. But my fellow dreamers are most likely twirling their hair and going, “Oh, yeah….”.

Like any dreamer, I’ve been breathing fairy dust since birth. But sometimes we dreamers need a sharp gulp of fresh air, a little reality check. I got mine in an intensive two-week spin around the Baltics. As I continue to process the experience–not to mention the one I’m having here in Denmark–I’ll report more as I’m able.

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