Being Present in the Moment

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Being Present in the Moment

I had some incredible experiences in Egypt … some of the most amazing things included flying right over Gizah and seeing the Pyramids from the air; standing in front of seemingly infinite hieroglyphics like I always wanted to as a young child, thinking that if I just had the opportunity to stand in front of them, I would understand. That my brain might not understand what it was seeing, but my heart and soul would know. And that’s exactly what happened. I saw what was written, I touched it, felt it, and understood. It took me back to many lifetimes ago, when things unknown to us were common knowledge back then.

I found that there’s so much postulation and ambiguity in ‘the truth’ in Egypt. Egyptologists can’t agree, and won’t; Egyptians themselves aren’t really sure, and some don’t know – especially if you ask too many questions because the answer only leads to even more questions and those answers are lost in time. There’s even laws around what is said and what can and can’t be said; in addition to a requirement for an ‘approved’ guide to take you everywhere and tell you things – things that people have been taught and told to say. But then you stand there, and you look at these amazing structures and artworks and monuments and deep inside your heart knows the truth of what it is.

And I find life is like that. The further you dig both phyiscally and metaphorically speaking the more is uncovered, the more questions are asked and your brain struggles to grasp the logic when the heart just knows.

And you can do your head in with the questions…

I just found it was better to just ‘be’ and accept the gift in the present moment. However they came to happen, these exceptional structures are gifts from the past for us to embrace, accept and show gratitude for. The enormity of the projects undertaken, the attention in the detail, the design execution all indicative of a greater understanding, a more divine intelligence than ours and a great, great love.

When I moved to acceptance, I felt an enormous sense of peace and gratitude, wandering through the Luxor Temple marvelling at what was before me, the Temple itself bathed in the most magnificent light to show of its divine aesthetic features. And out of the corner of my eye I marvelled at the realisation a full moon was out that night and was peering at me through the monoliths of the Temple walls. While these monoliths had seen many, many hundreds of thousands of nights, full moons were less prevalent, and I stopped for a moment, totally present in the moment and captured what I saw in a photograph. The gift really is found in the present.

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A Lesson in Gratitude

Aside

The last time I posted it was the 21st of September, and I had just posted of my impressions of Cairo – after just 24 hours in Egypt about to set forth for an amazing two week tour. And, it was spectacular for the obvious and not-so-obvious reasons – experiences aplenty, many past life recollections that flooded in, the most surreal realisation that most if not all of my dreams were set in Egypt (never been there), it told me a lot about who I am, and who I was.

I met some extraordinary people – locally and on our tour – who will remain friends for life. The intention of course was to blog each day’s experiences, well the days were full and the internet connection intermittent, the schedule hectic and this didn’t really leave the space to sit and write as I had hoped. I realised that perhaps I was just a whole lot better to just absorb the experience, photo journalling wherever possible (and I have some amazing photos) and just go with the flow… this proved to be a much more reasonable expectation ultimately – given the circumstances.

On every front, the trip was incredible. Two weeks is a long time to spend in any country and as you’d expect I came to know the country and its people fairly intimately over that time. While there were rough language barriers in some cases, my experiences were that the people were incredibly kind, tolerant and welcoming. I felt very blessed and will treasure the memories for a lifetime. There were unexpected surprises around every corner, and surprisingly, leaving the country at the end of the trip was far harder than I anticipated it would be. I had some wonderful souvenirs, both the bought kind and crystals from the earth itself that simply gifted themselves to me wherever I walked, and another completely unexpected one: Hepatitis A.

I was home about two weeks, and after attending a conference felt very run down. I thought I might have been getting the flu or something similar but was hospitalised 3 days later with a very severe bout of Hepatitis A and remained there for 11 days. It has taken all my time and energy since then, along with incredible support from my partner Ura to get to this stage – being able to blog again. It’s been 3 months. Two since I became unwell. And somehow, we have arrived at Christmas. The last quarter being pretty much a blur for me. Exciting, interesting, fascinating, and devastating all at once. Life is never dull around here.

Curiously, I managed to meet and fall in love with a wonderful man in my partner Ura just before I left for Egypt – indeed he was the one that encouraged me to take the trip of a lifetime which I would never have done if it hadn’t been for him. The pace at which our relationship developed took even my breath away, which is saying something. I couldn’t understand why things were unfolding so quickly or what purpose there was behind it. I was happy to let go and be in flow, I am quite ok with trusting the universe’s wisdom and would even describe myself as having a degree of ‘cautious spontaneity’, but it was swift and fast which was curious because I had decided that I was happy to be alone and single indefinitely. Yes, I know, that’s when it comes along …

So, it ended up that this amazingly generous and wonderful man was not only someone who was attentively loving, open hearted and aware; who opened his life and welcomed me with both arms, who encouraged me to head to Egypt and experience what life had to offer with both hands…. and who – as God would have it – had been immunised against Hepatitis A many years before. Because of this he was able to come and see me in hospital every day and was the only person who could because I was in isolation – as I was a public health risk! I even turned yellow for the privilege thanks to a severe bout of jaundice that followed!

The last few years have been a hell of a rollercoaster ride for me, but the one thing that got me through all of it was the realisation that things were not happening to me, but around me. That was always my saving grace: getting through a violent end to marriage; through the trauma of seeing my entire neighbourhood annihilated by flooding; my parents ill health (cancer and a heart attack) and moving on my own; through a 12 month battle to keep my job (I was eventually made redundant this year) and having to eventually make the decision to take the kids out of their beloved schools which was a very difficult decision for me to make, but necessary. Finally, I meet Ura and fortunately all of those decisions were the right ones as had I not taken the actions I had, life would have been extremely complicated and I would have been financially destitute. Things really do happen for a reason, and now I am on a completely different, inward journey – as ‘big’ as any Egypt tour, longer, with the ETA unknown. Will I come out of this a different person? Most likely yes as I have every reason to believe that this was all necessary – the last unturned stone of transformation. The timing, on a metaphysical level, is impeccable. So I’ll be using this blog to document my moves forwards, sideways and backwards, as I learn to accept things as they now are, and move forward in a way that is both realistic and beneficial and open to the love that Ura bestows on me. With that, and the wonderful love of well wishers, my family and incredible friends no matter what, I am one very lucky lady and I am deeply grateful for all I have, make no mistake.

An Ancient New York

This morning I write from the hustling bustling ancient city of Cairo. 24 hours ago, I watched the sunrise as I flew in over the Arabian desert not long after leaving Dubai. It was an incredibly beautiful and touching sight that brought me into deep awareness not only of how infinitesimally small one person is in the vast scheme of things, but also just how majestic this magnificent earth Gaia, truly is. To see that wonderful and incredible landscape of sand dunes for thousands of kilometres tinged with the golden pink hue of a gorgeously clear morning sunrise was truly humbling and a sight to behold. I wept. There was a big part of me that felt that I was coming home. I’d never been here and like many white caucasian Australians, I am 7th gen Aussie one side, and a mix of Scottish, Irish, German and Jewish on the other.

Landing in Cairo, after having crossed the Red Sea and the Suez canal, doing a full circle of the greater Cairo district and over the top of the Pyramids was nothing short of amazing. I quickly realised just prior that I was looking down on ancient ruins and archaelogical digs – a long lost childhood dream of mine to be here doing this and suddenly I realised: I’m 44 and living the dream! I’m living my passionate life! It was incredible.

Landing in Cairo, I felt the warmth of an ancient culture immediately. The international airport was far larger than I anticipated and inside was truly beautiful, far nicer than my own! I laughed when I went to the window and purchased my visa for $US15 – which they check at another desk 15 feet away. Spot the difference with the regulations and Australia’s visa process, and which after having recruited so many international candidates overseas, I know is an horrendous ordeal for the individual concerned. Deliberately so.

We travelled through Cairo and I was struck again by its grand architecture which appears to have had somewhat of a renaissance period early 1900s, with Persian and French influences everywhere. And busy! It’s like an ancient New York. On the go, non stop, but it definitely has its quiet periods, between about 3am and 6am just before the Islamic morning prayer hears throughout the streets. But people don’t really get going til about 9am.

Driving here is amazing and not for the feint hearted, so I won’t be attempting it! Everyone here on the road: pedestrians, cars, trucks and service vehicles as well as bikes, mini peds and carts all have right of way so I think it is best described as organised chaos! They all know what they are doing, and provided you have confidence and can time it right, you will too. Lanes are this strange road decoration no one adheres to. Seatbelts are installed but have no purpose and few if any cars have straight panels: its a panel beaters’ mecca here and I wondered whether people even bother to insure their cars? But the biggest impression of all? The way they toot their horns, non stop, at everything, in this little “audio morse code” that every driver and car seems to understand. They beep at each other, they beep at the pedestrian (who comes out from nowhere), they beep at the policemen, a pretty girl, and nothing at all. They just beep! In this chorus of horns that go morning and night and are a necessary tool of driving in Cairo, just as an indicator or gear stick is. You just beep! A lot! And yet, no road rage. No abuse, no rude gestures, just a tolerance for too many people on the road all trying to get through their day, too. It was almost polite. I hope to capture video of this at some stage its truly remarkable. And though it was so strange from what I knew and have come from, oddly, those little tooting horns and the chaos in the dirty street below lulled me into a couple of hours sleep before I got to walk around the city with my host.

I don’t feel like a Westerner, and I gather with the dark hair I tend to blend in. Despite what is written in publications there’s no insistence that you cover your hair – at least not in the cities and no expectation for you to be anything different from who you really are. I dress conservatively anyway and I think the main difference here is that men will tend to engage you deeply with eye contact and that is not something we are used to in Australia at least, where little if any meaningful eye contact is engaged in. Out in the regional areas, I suspect things will be approached differently, but Cairo itself demonstrates nothing but tolerance for people of all kinds of backgrounds as the melting pot of the Middle East that it is.

So why Cairo? In Western terms, Cairo is a forgotten part of the world – certainly for Australians and its not easy to get to, involving no less than a 17 hour flight: Singapore, Dubai, Cairo. But it was so worth it. Most Australians head overseas at some point in their lives, and Cairo is a destination for not more than a few days to see the pyramids and that’s it. I’ve been blessed with an opportunity to join a privately run Antiquity tour for 15 days with a spiritual emphasis acknowledging Egypt’s true history, sleeping in the desert, sailing down the Nile on a Felucca, and working our way back to Cairo through a myriad of Temples. Egypt has called to me many times throughout my life, and finally it got its way.

If you believe the press and travel updates, it warns that this is a dangerous time to travel. There is absolutely no evidence of this at all, and just like at home, they too have their KFC, and Maccas and Egyptians are eating there just like any other establishment or outlet and are all going about their daily chaotic lives in the best way they know how. It made me wonder what else we are told to believe that we blindly adhere to in our lives, without getting to the real truth first. Mind you, that same press reported that Prince William and Princess Kate were on a private jet refuelling in Brisbane as I left. Not true – they left for Singapore on the same flight I did and were sitting just 10 seats away. Nothing ever really is at it appears.

I feel blessed to be here, and while it is another world – literally – from where I live, it is an honour to be here. It really does feel like I am returning home. Curiously, after 15 years a temple in honour of the the high priest P’tah (looks awfully like my own name!) has reopened literally as I arrived. It makes me wonder what other synchronicities are in store…

Until next time – Insist on a Passionate life!

Petah-Jane Hall

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