The Domino Effect


The last time I wrote in an airport I was leaking all kinds of emotions as I scrambled to be present for the incredible adventure that the one way ticket in my hand was about to afford. I learned quickly that magic is sold on a sliding scale. And the universe occasionally plays the part of a benevolent shop owner in an old time candy store. So when you peer over the counter with one hand full of sticky candy and one grubby fist full of change, whatever you have "happens" to be just enough. Which is to say, I got more out of my time on the island than I ever could have bought off of the life experience rack. I don't leave this island for any lack of love. But simply because, as my friend George says, there's so much ground to pound.

Seven months later, I'm holding another one way ticket. But this time, my emotional landscape looks much different. Instead of tears, I'm swimming in gratitude and butterflies. I feel like the countdown to Christmas is on and I'm a kid whose concept of time is seen through a fun house mirror. It's a brand of nervous excitement that gives you a start as an adult because you forget what it feels like in between. But once upon a time it coursed through your veins. I wonder as I absentmindedly hold my hand over my heart if the reason it diminishes isn't because of wonder lost, but because it's so visceral that we can't sustain it within our grown up skeletons. These butterflies have no manners. They go from lazy stoners bouncing off my ribs to caffeinated toddlers beating down the doors of my chest. But despite their uncouth behavior, I'm happy to have them. They're a reminder of all the ways we can feel alive. 

Even with all my excitement, I still wonder..what's this chapter all about? Will it be long? Short? Forever? I'm naturally curious and there's a part of me that wishes I were operating a crystal ball. But this wonder makes me think back to some recent words of wisdom I was handed.

I asked a new friend on the Napali coast one of my favorite questions. One that led to the on ramp of this journey I'm on in fact.

"What do you wish you could tell your 28 year old self?", I asked.

"Oof. 28 was a big one for me. I married a man I knew I didn't love."

"So you would warn yourself?"

"No. I would tell myself that even though I'm about to do the wrong thing, it's still the right thing."

"Because it knocked over all the right dominoes?"

She smiled, "All the best dominoes."

Then she turned the tables on me and asked what I would ask my 40 year old self.

"Whether my 28 year old self was full of hippie bullshit, or it really all worked out", I replied.

She just laughed.

I'm about to tip over the next domino. And I take great comfort in the knowledge that even if it's the wrong thing, it's still the right thing. The story is bigger than me.

Amber Gruber