But (and there is always a but) while I am having difficulty trying to share the experiences I've had outside of myself I am beginning to develop an understanding of how these experiences have changed me. The experience of stepping out of one's well established life for three months is not one many of us are granted. Before my departure the prospect of doing this did fill me with a certain amount of anxiety but I am beginning to see it for opportunity of experience and perspective that it has provided me.
At home in Portland I am known as many things; Joie from Dark Follies, Joie the dance teacher, Joie the organizer, Joie the musician, Joie the artist, etc. When I arrived here on this ship I wasn't Joie the anything, I was just...Joie. At first I admit that I found myself a bit uncomfortable with this. I felt as though I didn't have a framework within which I could present myself to this new world. I felt a little adrift. But after a few weeks passed I began to find it to be rather liberating. I could just be me without any expectation of who I was known as in the community because, like everyone else here, I was now a part of a brand new community that was not yet developed. We were all starting at a new place.
Now, this doesn't mean I suddenly found myself in the position of reinventing myself. I am still me with all of my personal history and the baggage that brings, but in finding myself in situation where there were no outside labels or expectations, I was able to experience a re-exploration of myself which has led to a rediscovery of who I am and what is important to me. There are parts of me that I have long neglected that have resurfaced and parts of myself that I was holding on to simply because I felt the are part of what I was expected to be. I have often thought about taking an extended period of solitude to do just this sort of personal inventory, but there is a benefit I think to experiencing this with people around that provides a sort of mirror that I would not have were I to do this sort of thing in isolation.
In the coming days of our crossing of the Caribbean and the Panama Canal I hope to find the time to share some of the personal discoveries I have made. I have a bit of a fear that this could come off as self-indulgent, new-agey, naval gazing but it's my blog and I'll blog what I want to...right?