Archives for category: solo hiking

I’m drinking coffee and giving thought to the day ahead. Days ahead. The weekend, too. Building a mental map of what is likely to come, and also gently letting that go; the map is not the world. Hell, it’s not even properly a map; it’s just a sense of direction. 🙂

A local transit map gets me across town, but tells me nothing much about the places to which I travel.

Maps are funny things. They give me a sense of security about the direction I’m headed, and some hints and pointers about how to get where I’m going. I appreciate those things. I also recognize that there are some limitations. Maps have scale, and boundaries; anything too small disappears from view, anything outside the borders isn’t shown. Depending on the distance I want to travel, or the complexity of the journey, any one map may be unsuited to the purpose.

Other maps, other details; not all maps suit all purposes.

If I take the wrong map on the hiking trip, I could easily become very lost. 🙂 Too little detail, and I don’t see the trails to follow. Too much detail, I don’t see important details of the terrain. Get in too close, and I can’t see “a bigger picture”. Pull away too far, and I lose a sense of context, and place. Perspective matters, on the trail, on the commute, and in life. The accuracy of the map matters, too.

I fell yesterday. I was walking briskly across a busy street, after work, heading to the train platform, and slipped on a rain-slick manhole cover. I fell hard, into the street, onto the train tracks. I hit the ground hard enough to knock the air out of my lungs, and I struggled to pick myself up easily. I was shaken, and stood confused, on the sidewalk for some moments. Passers-by expressed concern. I wasn’t entirely coherent, for some seconds. My jeans were soaked on the side of my body that took the impact. I walk across that street almost every day. You’d think I’d have mastered it by now. My mental map did not have that manhole cover noted anywhere, and the risk escaped my notice as I hurried along.

I got home with minimal frustration, still aching all over from falling. I made a trip to the store, because I’d said I would, but my head was still reeling a bit from the fall, and I made the trip short and very efficient. I really just wanted to go home. I felt vulnerable, raw, and very very mortal. I felt betrayed by my awareness, and overly sensitive to the excessive real-world detail strewn about all around me. Overwhelmed by the sudden awareness that I just don’t notice everything, I was feeling a bit anxious, and still kind of dizzy from the fall.

I got home, and just as I was breathing a sigh of relief, hands full of shopping bags, and also juggling my keys, my cane, and my backpack… the door would not unlock. Fuck. I snarled at the door and tried again. Nope. Not unlocking. I snapped. I felt my consciousness winding up to prepare me to lash out against that wretched, cursed, unresponsive door, and just as the stream of invective began to leave my lips – my Traveling Partner opened the door with a sheepish, loving smile, and an apology; he’d locked the door knob (I lock the deadbolt). I started to cry, he immediately offered me comfort. We moved on from the moment very quickly. He made sure I was really okay, and helped me look after my health properly. No obvious lasting damage, honestly. I just fell. I got back up. I got home safely. We enjoyed a lovely evening. Well and good. 🙂

The mental map matters every bit as much as any physical map ever has. Expectations, unchecked, often result in disappointment, confusion, resentment, and frustration. Assumptions that are not verified against actual facts, can lead to some terrible decision-making, miscommunication, and poor quality relationships. Even simple lack of awareness can wreck a map and render it entirely useless due to lack of relevant details. I’m just saying – it’s not enough to take just any map, it also needs to be a map of the correct place, and drawn to the correct scale, using an accurate perspective.

If you’re struggling to get where you are going in life… maybe it’s time to redraw the map? 😀

 

It’s lovely to have a best friend, a devoted lover, a close social circle – someone to count on. No argument, it’s amazing to have all those things. Sometimes we don’t. We also don’t have to wither away and die of loneliness and heartbreak when we are alone. For real.

Treat yourself as well as you would treat your best friend, your devoted lover, your close social connections. Treat yourself with kindness. Patience. Affection. No kidding – be there for yourself, and become that person you can always count on. I so dislike pointing it out again; you have choices here. You can choose to be that best friend that you need, and become that person you can “always count on” – or you can choose some other path. Yep. There are verbs involved – and the uncomfortable matter of learning to trust yourself with your own heart. Learning to listen to yourself, deeply. Learning to hold yourself in high regard – that one can take a bit of work, if you’ve been crushing yourself with nastiness from within, for many years. It does take some practice to change the way we treat ourselves.

This practice is a bit tricky – self-indulgence doesn’t meet the need. Lavishly going beyond your means, also isn’t how it’s done, generally speaking. It’s a subtle thing, more about appreciating who you are right now, and supporting your endeavors to improve, and continue to become the person you legitimately most want to be. Already that person? Then this wee practice is probably already part of your experience.

This practice could be called “enjoy who you are” – I mean, that’s what I’m talking about. Be you. Appreciate your qualities. Embrace the best you have to offer the world, however humble. Become more of the best things you are, and grow some new great qualities over time. It’s that easy – it’s also that hard. I mean, what if a characteristic you yearn for is to be exquisitely good at math, or skilled at a number of languages? The study could take you quite a lot of time. Like a lot of New Year’s resolutions, and “fresh starts”, it’s easy to set the goal too high, too far, or too much, then frustrate yourself, and end up yielding to your frustration and giving up. “See? I knew I…” That’s both too easy, and too obvious a ploy. 🙂

Start here, now, today. Start where you are. Start with what you do enjoy about this human being that you are – even if it is so small and delicate as to be more a question than an observation. 🙂 It’s okay – you’re safe with you. You can trust you. Enjoy that enjoyable thing about you for a moment or two – seriously! Just enjoy you own presence in your experience. Sit with that awhile. In fact, do that every day; take a moment to enjoy you. Some little quality, or experience of living life, that you enjoy, can become the magic carpet that carries you into a lovely day. Follow it up with cutting yourself some slack when you make a mistake. Fix that shit, let it go, and move on.

Be kind to yourself. Also – be genuine and honest with yourself. (Not mean, just gently honest.) Take small steps toward large goals, and be considerate that journeys may require going some actual distance, and take some actual time.

Those people around you who like you? They know something worth knowing – how worthy you are. Those people around you who don’t like you? Hey, you’re an acquired taste, a being so entirely yourself that liking you isn’t for everyone. Could you be different or other than you are? Sure. Do you want to? I mean… if you don’t want to change, great – like yourself and let go of drama. On the other hand, sitting around pissing and moaning with self-loathing and self-contempt are not just huge buzzkills, socially, they also waste precious time that could be spent enjoying life. Choices. Verbs. Journeys. All for you. 🙂

It’s time to begin again.

Sipping my coffee, scrolling through my feeds, reading the posts of friends dropped into this app or that one, during the night. There is content that troubles me, and I see a lot of it; people posting vague remarks that are self-critical, negative, and on a hopeless sort of downer that shrieks of depression, self-loathing, and… a regrettable lack of understanding that there are, still, and yes, even if they are deeply depressed, some choices involved. Harsh. Why the ever-loving-fuck would someone repeatedly post this sort of quagmire of terribly self-contempt-filled morsels on which to feed themselves? Horrifying.

I don’t have to look too far in the past to “get it”. I only “don’t get it”, now. It’s one major drawback, for me, of healing and forward momentum; it can be hard to understand, or identify with, those past challenges. I guess I’m grateful for that, generally, but when I want to offer comfort, or suggest there is another way, I wish I were more easily able to do so. How do I tell someone in such circumstances “that’s just your opinion of yourself, and only for right now, and holy crap – did you know you can change that??”… when it is their own heartfelt convictions, and deepest terror, about themselves, that I’d be seeking to challenge? I mean, I can say words. Words I’ve got – lots of them – but, generally, these friends are not listening to those words. They hear the words they say, themselves, about the self they so loathe. Anything I could (and often do) say is drowned out in the din.

…It can be heartbreaking to scroll past egregious thinking errors that recognizably mire dear ones in misery. We each can only do so much. If a feeding frenzy of corrections, positivity, love, and encouragement, in response to such posts does nothing to bandage a wounded heart… what can? Well… being present helps. Listening deeply helps. Constancy and steady patient friendship helps. Eventually, though, it’s down to that person and those feelings. …And the verbs…? Yep. No surprise; they’ve got to do the verbs, themselves. No one else can actually undertake to do the work to feel better, aside from the person having the shitty experience – particularly if that shitty experience is one they’ve willfully crafted for themselves and reinforced over time.

Well… shit. That sucks. I’d love to be able to reach out a hand to a friend and take their pain away. Generally, it does not work like that. If I cling to them, wrapping myself up in their pain, eventually some may even sap my strength for living my own life, and caring for my own heart – and not out of malice, just done in a way not so dissimilar to someone overboard grabbing for a life vest or flotation device and just holding on desperately. So, I focus on self-care, and listening deeply, and sharing the journey, and “being there” – but I also work to set skillful boundaries, to be there for my own self, reliably, and to avoid getting sucked into drama. I do what I can to encourage friends who are suffering to choose less suffering, if they are able to. I still feel sad when I watch them choose suffering again and again, in a way that appears crafted and willful. My heart aches for them; I’m pretty sure that if they were able to really understand how much suffering they specifically choose, foster, nurture, and feed, they would also understand they could choose differently.

…I couldn’t treat myself differently until I both understood that such a thing were possible, and – but? – also not until I was ready to see myself differently, and as worthy of better treatment from myself. Harsh – but the truth of it is that I can’t walk that mile for anyone else. I can only suggest that there is such a path available to be walked.

It was a lovely quiet weekend, spent in the gentle good company of my traveling partner. Some snow fell. Some rain fell. Movies were watched. Content was shared – as was contentment. It was warm and connected and close. It feels good to share the company of such good companions: my Traveling Partner… and the woman in the mirror. It feels good to be in a place in life where my own good company is precious to me. I finish my coffee, wondering what words it takes to suggest to the worn down, forlorn, depressed, or anxious, that they, too, have this amazing relationship near at hand…? That perhaps the answer to the question “when will I find someone?” could be found in their mirror, right now?

The coffee is finished. It’s time to begin again. 🙂

I’m looking ahead at the year and sorting out time off plans. Yes, already. I am soooo “that” person. lol I find that doing so gives me a better idea of where I hope to spend my time, and on what activities. It gives me a chance to ensure that I’m also allowing enough opportunity to recover and rest between adventures, festivals, weekends away, and all of the busy things about living life.

There was a point in my life, not too long ago, when such attempts at planning was pure lasting frustration; my planning wasn’t respected by partners, even when the events were shared. It was… hard. For me. My subjective experience, and internal narrative, suggests that I “bent over backwards” to accommodate change, and to be flexible, but… here’s where honest self-reflection has some pay-off; I’m pretty sure I made everyone fairly miserable with noteworthy displays of disappointment, dissatisfaction, and frustration, as much as anything else. Unpleasant on all sides.

Last year was complicated. Lots of well-intended changes of carefully laid plans. Lots of life, and interrupted or changed plans following through on circumstances. Also, rather an enjoyable amount of things that were also planned, and enjoyed precisely as planned, with considerable satisfaction and merriment…so… there’s that. What got missed, often, last year (until near the end) was to also plan, skillfully, with real commitment, the time I needed to care for myself, too.

This year, I hope to improve on that. 😀 It’s not a resolution. It’s just a commitment to myself; I do so much to meet other needs, for myself, for other people, this year I also want to meet my own. Seems doable on paper. I’ve a quantity of time off to use. I’ve some key dates I reliable want to have off every year. I’ll start there. Request that time off now, and see what’s left. Check in with my Traveling Partner on some shared activities and interests. Secure that time off, next. It’s a system that works. This year, I’ll also be mindful that major events need major rest time, and ideally, no two consecutive weekends will have major plans – and definitely any two consecutive weekends of major events or activities needs a real weekend of rest (maybe with an extra day) between them, and anything else planned. Calendar filling up? I start saying “no, I can’t this year – next year?” and getting some variety in the rotation using alternating-year planning. 🙂 Will it work?

…I guess I have to begin again to find out. 😉

Another Monday finished off, in due time. Hardly a routine work day, and I could have easily arrived home in a completely shitty mood, after spending the last half of my work day struggling not to snarl at people (it was that sort of day).

I didn’t. I made other choices, although, honestly, I’m sort of tired now, and… just a tad uncertain which choices had what result. lol Choices were made, however, and some were made differently. New perspective? Different perspective. Close enough.

I got home tired. I’m not even bitching; it wasn’t a particularly long day, and I still have some evening ahead of me to relax, read, write, and do some things to support my own wellness and quality of life. It feels good. It’s a small thing, but keeping some of my focus on my own needs really does make a huge difference, and when I don’t – however worthy the reason, I eventually pay a price for it in a reduction in quality of life, health, emotional resilience, or some moment of aggravation blown out of proportion.

I sat down to write and found this:

…Has it been 6 years?

Funny thing, though… I mean… I write like I breathe (which is to say, reliably, most of the time, and without any particular effort or need to think about it, and fairly unavoidably; it’s part of my existence). How is 6 more years of writing actually an achievement? I nibble at my fairly nutritious dinner, and give that some thought.

6 years ago, I was walking a very different path.

6 years. 6 years of living life. Now that’s an achievement. 6 years of learning to love truly well. 6 years of sharing my heart and my moments with my Traveling Partner. Hell of an achievement right there; love takes some major verbs, done well. 6 years of forgiving myself. 6 years of forgiving others. 6 years of laughing at my own dumb jokes. 6 years spent doing more than crying. 6 years of hiking, camping, and pouring over maps of trails yet to be walked. Those are pretty cool achievements. 6 years of work I can be proud of. 6 years of lasting friendships, and new friends. Definitely some achievements in there. 6 years of more daydreams than nightmares – that’s a big achievement, most particularly because it has continued to improve over time. 🙂 6 years of practicing practices, sharing tales from a journey through a wilderness of chaos and damage, traveling in the twilight of evening light… and somehow, it seems a stroll through a sunny meadow much of the time, in year 6. That’s an achievement I don’t even know how to measure. Feels good.

So… yeah… I guess the tl;dr is “I registered on WordPress.com 6 years ago”. This may not be “happily ever after”… but it is pretty nice, generally. 🙂 I chose to make a change. That was an achievement. I’ve just kept making changes, and when I falter, I begin again. That’s an achievement. Thanks, WordPress.com, you’ve been a hell of a platform for change. 🙂

Still walking my path, paved with verbs and new beginnings, illuminated with love.