Little Bennet Regional Park – Western Piedmont Trail (6.2m) – Maryland
I doubt I’ve made it a mile in yet but have to stop, as I’ve just taken off my shoes to cross Little Bennet Creek, and already the words were building up so quickly I thought I’d lose them – or resort to writing and walking simultaneously (not wise) – if I didn’t take pause to honor this beauty, this freedom, this life of mine.
I’ve broken a few rules to get to this spot, but I’m caring less and less about rules and the people who make them. I seriously don’t want to follow any I didn’t get to help make, or that aren’t obviously protecting human, animal, or plant life, or contributing to ecological restoration.
I’ve been under a lot of pressure lately. Even a mood-swinging, ultra-phasic human with whims and impulses that drive comrades and cohorts mad at times can begin to boil under the lid…But it lead to me having no other option but to accept the quirks. They got a lot easier to work with (rather than suffer through) and I grew less inclined to tolerate people telling me I’ve got issues. We all have issues, inner and outer, demons, horrible intentions, and weird little spots that really drive us crazier in our plight to eradicate them than they do our friends who witness them. I’ve observed recently though that the times someone has has implied I need to fix something, what they meant was, “You’re clearly not deluded by the same societyal/syphiization traps that I am and therefore you don’t fit in.”
Taking a clear look at the last 8 months, it’s apparent to me that some new problems have arisen; or that some pre-trail ones have resurfaced. I know how to be happy, but I have chosen a path for the present that does not allow me to fully be that happiness. I’ve gotten suckered into such responsibility that my body aches and I don’t hike as much. My job is amazing and in many ways quite a liberating one for me, however at no one’s fault but my own it has taken over my thought processes. I worry about under-performing, about completing tasks, I try so hard to have more energy than I actually have, I try to fit the mold of what’s expected of a 30-something professional in the District of Columbia because I think it’s what I should do…That I get off my personal course.
I signed a year lease and moved closer to the office, I work more hours than is good for me mentally and physically (I peter out around 27.2 hours), and I don’t hike or move about in the carefree manner that feels natural to me. All the while so many people are congratulating me, telling me how glad they are that I’ve got a career and a livelihood. Hearing such praise had me thinking for a while that maybe all my dreams of hiking and adventuring were juvenile, that affording a nice apartment and a considering a new car are the right way for me to be.
And then…then too much stress, too much crying, too much anger, too much abuse from a shitty human who happens to be my landlord, and I go to the woods alone, and I remember that this is where I belong. This is what makes my soul shine and my heart full. This is where I am one with all, where I can be of service to the universe and receive its blessings.
Am I crazy to want, to expect happiness and fulfillment in all I do? Mutual sharing and being shared with? Calm, quiet, peaceful, chaotic nature in all its perfectly uncivilized bliss?
I would never say that money and financial independence are unimportant – much the contrary, as I have found during this post-traill time that earning my own way is incredible. I’ve always trusted that I’d be cared for, and I have been. Now I’ve learned to trust that I can care for myself and help those who may be in a place like I was not too long ago.
The next thing to do is create a life that funds my adventures, where my livelihood and need to explore are one and the same – with minimal time in humongo cities and offices and traffic as possible. I know I can do it.
Truly, everyone can do it. It’s not easy finding the way, but I swear if attention is paid to the voice inside, if a practice of awareness to moods and reactions to environments or stimulus is established, then you can find your niche.
“Fake it till you make it,” one of my spiritual mentors said to me when teaching me a new type of meditation years ago. Every single thing take practice, every experience contains an education, and if you make it a goal to learn to accept your own truth, your weirdness and your quirks, what makes you full and what depletes you, and if you can create a healthy boundary between yourself and what all those other people think is best for you, you can be happy. I know it.
[The boundary should be slightly permeable so that you recognize when and whose advice resonates with your inner world, so you can store it for winter. It’s not that those who wish to advise you want to trip you up, it’s that they care and don’t want to see you fall – but they can only advise based on what works for them.]