• Kelly Tavares

Vulnerable moments on a journey

Grey skies might be a synonym of bad moods, but for those who live with them on a constant basis it can also hold other meanings that I also appreciate. But good indeed is the freedom of coming and going, a privilege that many people want to conquer. Back in time we were nomads, hunters, collectors in search of food and shelter for our survival. Now the world offers new trends and challenges and many people have been adopting the nomadic life style, searching ways to make a living on the go, bringing back those primitive instincts of survival in this wild world.

Challenges are there for everyone and one must remember Tim Maia, “one must have an all-blue- dream, azul da cor do mar”. One that keeps us fighting for better days, resilient and brave. Throughout the world “a maré não está pra peixe” but in my gardening experiences while listening to the masters of Brasilian music João Bosco taught me that in times of war and struggle we must be like the boat’s keel with its sharp edge crossing through the turbulent seas, breaking through deep turbulent waters.

After reaching a point of stagnated thoughts and feelings in my hometown aggravated by the current global political scenario, I and many other Brazilians merged into a negative wave of mistrust and frustration. That very old feeling of chains holding you back were creaking its fearful noises of despair obliterating, swinging, dragging, suffocating, and hanging heavily in my soul. Sometimes we must reach the bottom to take off again.

I started to get sick with my broken dreams and leg, luck twisted aside, many falls. I got a bone fracture, sinus, and crystals on my kidneys, UPA and “Souza Aguiar” to save me and finally Chikungunya. In the meanwhile I got tired. I called my mentors, reached out to my inspiring friends and shared my dream: I shall get back to my mission. I shall get back to the road.

There I was, 6 months after recovering from a knee fracture and fissure, limping on my left foot with my newly acquired rheumatoid arthritis. Should I stay or should I go? Well … then I thought… since the chikungunya symptoms can last 2 to 5 years. I decided to go and live with it.

I started my volunteering experience in Leicester city where, as a first inexperienced helpexer, I accepted a very disadvantageous experience at a Buddhist center, where we were supposed to work 7h a day only for lodging and food, and there are people who think that is a good deal, despite of being pushed into tasks without any payback. Hypocrisy once more proved that, it is better to keep religion to your practice and forget about spiritual centers that for the most part, just want to take advantage of people. At the Nagarjuna Meditation Center in Leicester, they rely 90% on volunteer work and the new manager that was also one of the “teachers” proved to be a “loving” well-being at the time when I most needed. I developed a liver intoxication due to arthritis medication (Sulfa Salazin), I fell in bed for almost one week, not being able to work after almost 14 days working at the center and instead of showing the compassion she pledged for, she asked me if I had friends, if I could leave since they did not have time to take care of anybody, besides she started charging me 20. Pounds for a shared bedroom with 2 bulk beds, what I tried to negotiate for 15. pounds. She wanted to kick me out immediately when I could barely call a taxi to take me to the emergency where, eventually, I ended up. I went back and forth to the Royal Infirmary twice for follow ups and complete check up of blood tests. I was treated like a queen without been charged a dime and I thought how unfair health care is in Brasil.

While sick, I lived a few days of hell with two days eating the old food I had because nobody asked me what I could eat, if I needed something other than a cup of tea. They do offered me the frozen food and leftovers they use to serve for volunteers, what I refused to accept since my liver and stomach were sick and I needed a little bit of fresh food. Thanks to a roommate who got me a box of grapes from the kitchen and other volunteers who gave me a little bit of rice and lentils, I was able to cook. It took me a few days after I stopped the intoxicating medication, had a bunch of herbal teas, an acupuncture session to be able to book a room on a lady’s (Sandra) house getting out of the center as soon as I could. At that moment, just a few people could understand a little about what I was going through. I was exhausted, extremely stressed and recovering from many inflammations, fortunately with natural food, medical herbs, Chinese medicine with Dr. Jun Zhang I was able to strength myself, get back on my feet and plan the next steps.

Thanks to the good host I found making me feel at home, sharing her home with me, giving me a discount, encouraging me to take care of myself I recovered the faith that my trip was worth to be continued and I hopped the worst had passed. I had one more acupuncture session, more treatment and soon I was walking miles again. Freedom has its price and pay offs and you never know if you will be able to keep it for long. But somehow you manage and incredible things happen in the meantime. A good feeling rises when you are exactly where your heart led you to; doing the crazy things you want, fighting windmills on foggy fields without the certainty of outcomes, but with a feeling that many things are going to work out at the end.

This lithography depicting a woman holding a light toward darkness was created by Max Slegovt and printed in 1917. It is titled “The March into the Unknown” and it is on display at the New Walk Museum, in Leicester.


#perseverance #travel #vulnerability

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