Maybe it was the lack of sleep or the weight of thousands of miles traveled, but I nearly cried when I saw Spam Fried Rice on the menu. The overwhelming sense of nostalgia came with that one uniquely Guam dish.
Even though it had been 25 years since I was last on Guam, the place felt the same. The individuals, the business names, and the political players changed. Roads have widened and beaches narrowed. Yet the essence that is undeniably Micronesia is perhaps stronger than before.
My trip to Guam in September of 2019 was a lesson in synchronicity and serendipity. For the 10 days that I was there, I only had one activity planned: the book launch on Wednesday, September 18. I went with an open heart and mind to let the journey unfold as it would and trusted a Higher Power to guide each step of the way.
The reason for the trip? Back in 1992, while attending the University of Guam, I was part of an Anthropology field school on Ulithi Atoll. Fast forward 20-some years, the professor retired and finally had time to compile a book about Ulithi. Papers myself and fellow students wrote as a result of the field school were part of the volume, Ulithi Atoll, Micronesia: Recalling the Past, Reaffirming the Future, along with more recent research from the 21st century.
Less than a month before the formal book launch, I was contacted by one of the book’s editors to inform me about the existence of this book. That was just one of a cascading volume of “coincidences” that were part of my Guam experience.
My former professor had tried to track me down me before. When time was running out, she asked the other editor to try. If this person had tried a week or two earlier, she would not have established contact.
The only reason she was able to reach me was that, merely a week prior, I had added the URL for this blog onto my Facebook page. If I hadn’t done that, I would have completely ignored the friend request and I would have absolutely no knowledge that this book existed, and hence, I would not have journeyed to Guam. As it was, she conveyed a message through the comments section on my blog, which comes straight to my inbox.
Guam is an island of connections. It seemed that everywhere I went and everything I did wove tiny threads of synchronism linking events, people, the past, and the future into a cohesive whole. I had such an overwhelming sense that I was exactly where I was supposed to be when I was supposed to be there.
The day I arrived, a two-day conference ended about decolonizing Guam. This is a topic I was actively learning about to inform the novel I’m writing. Turns out, a former classmate who I had been looking to reconnect with was very involved with the issue. When we met for dinner, it was as if no time had passed and we talked and talked, much to the annoyance of people waiting to be seated at the restaurant.
Another motivation for returning to Guam was to get more information about the Suruhana, the traditional healers on Guam. This was also to inform my writing. ‘Coincidentally,’ my friend was familiar with a number of Suruhana and an avid supporter of helping the tradition survive in the 21st century.
Oh, and so many more parallels. When I had been on Guam in the 80s and 90s, I knew my friend had grown up on-island. Little did I realize that she had gone to high school in Medford, Oregon, a rather small, rural town. At that point, I had never been to Oregon. After moving away from the island I had happened to go through Medford shortly after my husband and I married in 1995. We fell in love with the area and have lived there ever since. So, my friend and I also had Medford in common.
There were too many other coincidences and parallels to mention. I’ll just say that every conversation confirmed that I had needed to be on Guam at that moment, to have that conversation, to gain that insight.
Overall, a strong sense of “it is time” pervaded my consciousness. It was time to act. Time to show up in the world. Time to let my voice be heard. Time to move beyond fear and fulfill my purpose. Heady stuff? Yes. Yet all it really means is that I must trust myself and do what is in front of me.
I can’t help but believe that my meditation practice allowed my mind to be clear and to fully discover the joy and meaning of each moment. In Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche’s words, “As we grow accustomed to looking at the clear surface of our minds, we can see through all the gossip about who and what we think we are, and recognize the shining essence of our true nature.” (The Joy of Living, p. 132).
I believe that you can come to know your true nature through many different religions and paths. As my husband recently heard, when the student is ready, all things become the teacher. So whether you’re in a 12-step program, a devout follower of a religion or anything in between, my wish for you is that you come to know how amazing you truly are and can follow your passion to your ultimate fulfillment.
Reprinted fromI Am Many Things