The story so far....

I woke as the first rays of sunlight crept across me. Bright gold, they cut through the early morning fog and reflected from the ocean, just visible through the window of the third floor bedroom where I had slept. It was a moment of complete peace. And clarity. A voice spoke in my thoughts: "Yes. You can. You are free, and you can do this if you want to." And with absolute certainty, I knew I would...

I met him on an internet dating site. So typical of me. Although one doesn't expect to begin a spiritual journey on match.com, this one did. (Well perhaps it really began about a half century ago, but we can talk about that later...) In his first message to me, he expressed the kinship he had felt in reading my profile. I felt it too. In subsequent emails, I found in him a kindred spirit. Like me, he had a very successful career. Like me, he had come to feel like the work he did was no longer relevant, that the rewards it brought were not the food he needed to fill himself.

So when his youngest daughter completed college, he left his job, sold his townhouse, gave away his furniture and moved to Martha's Vineyard where he had a vacation home. From there he travelled in and out of India for the next 15 years, learning about Buddhism, Ayurveda, and himself.

At the first opportunity, I accepted his invitation to visit him on Martha's Vineyard. I arrived in the evening and we ate risotto di mare with crisp cold white wine by candlelight in his beautiful home, surrounded by the relics of his journeys, listening to Spanish music - the music of my soul. We talked. The meeting of two people, face to face for the first time is usually attended by a fair amount of awkwardness. But not this meeting. We met like old friends. We talked about anything and everything without reservation. The next day, we walked. On the beach in the morning sun, through the woods during a long spring afternoon, and then again along the shore of one of the many inlets: for hours we walked and talked. Although we talked of many things, there was always the juxtaposition of our lives: his deep contentment and satisfaction with the path he was taking and my confusion about where my journey should be. We talked about my increasing feelings of disaffection with my work and the life I was leading.

My only son was finished with college and had started his own business. He was becoming successful, had a relationship with a lovely woman, and although we are close, he needed very little from me. My work and personal life felt increasingly shallow. I was beginning to feel alienated from them and I could not see myself merely continuing in the same direction. Oh yes. I would continue to progress in my career - I always had. I would make more money. I would live a luxurious life in my chic loft apartment with fine dinners, parties, community recognition, social life, close friends and my closets full of beautiful clothes. But although these are all desirable things, none of them presented me with the prospect that they would fill the void growing in my heart. Not the next beautifully cut designer jacket, or the next piece of jewelry, not the next exquisite meal at the restaurant of the moment, not the next lover....

I felt, and we talked of my yearning to travel, my envy of his travels and the places I wanted to see. We talked of Asia, the temples, the markets, the ashrams, and we talked of the journey, the hero's quest, the yearning to find oneself. At one point, as the sun set we walked along the shore of Menemsha Pond. Watching the approaching twilight and the wind-tossed waves, he asked me: "Collette, why don't you do it? Why don't you just go?" Of course, the first thoughts that came, the reply that sprang to my lips: "I can't go. I have to work. I need to make money to support myself, for my retirement. Perhaps I can go in a few years......." But, still, we talked about it.

And it ran like a thread through our conversation late into the night where, once again we ate, drank wine and talked by candlelight. Through our conversation, no matter where it went, there was a deep sense of peace, wonder and the mystery of life surrounded us.

And when I woke in the morning, clarity. Like I had never felt before. Of course, I can go! My son is grown, educated and on his own. My friends and lovers - they may miss me, but none of them really need me to be here. Certainly not as much as I need to go. I might miss the money, but it has not filled my soul and I certainly won't starve....

I am free. I can choose this. And I have.