Perhaps it's the romantic in me, but whenever I see castles, I am completely mesmerized. To resident Romanians, this is something "normal," something they've grown up with. But maybe because I grew up in America where we've never had a royal family, a king and queen or castles built, I am absolutely fascinated by these structures, the intricacy of them, the art, the beauty in every detail that had to have gone into their design and construction.
Tack on the fact I grew up with fairytales that always incorporated princes and princesses ... magical castles, and I am at the mercy of these regal, stoic structures.
Today, we drove through several Romanian villages, including a few areas where gypsies mainly live. The life is very simple. I was like a child in a candy store, seeing sheep herders in the fields and cattle being wrangled from the pastures and herded back to their respective homes.
While I loved Bucharest, it's history and liveliness, I am very much more drawn to Romania's countryside.
To see people working in the fields, hauling logs on horse-drawn wagons, to see simple, yet charming and colorful homes, I felt a weight lift off of me. Maybe for a moment I fantasized about living in that kind of atmosphere, I imagined what it was like for my mom, growing up in her village on her parents' farm ... and I smiled.
It was the deep, satisfied kind of smile that only happens in those moments when we truly let go and feel everything ... those moments when you are totally in the present moment, completely at peace with the world — with your world.
The people here, the culture, is very warm and welcoming. My family goes above and beyond to just ensure I am feeling OK, I am rested, I am fed, I am enjoying myself. It's really humbling in many ways. It emphasizes the good things in life, the things that truly matter: Living, loving, family, connection, a sense of home.
And nature, nature is home to me. Maybe that's why I feel such a magnetic pull to the countryside, to these historic buildings and cobblestone paths buried amidst rugged mountains and tranquil creeks.
Or maybe the romantic in me is reemerging in response to these elements. It's a part of me I've kept at bay for awhile now, but between my Yogic journey this past year and now this trip, it's as though I feel I'm reawakening from a long, deep sleep. Or, as my teachers would say, it's like relearning something I've always known.
Life doesn't stand still for us. And whether it's traveling or doing something we love to do, perhaps embarking on a new journey in our personal lives or career paths, it's all there at our fingertips, we just don't always see it right away.
And this trip, it's not only been an adventure for me thus far, it's been a breath of oxygen upon embers I don't always take care to nourish.
And I only hope to keep tending to them ... the way I hope we all tend to our passions.
After all, the magic is there — we only have to see it.