Archives for category: solo hiking

This too shall pass. I sip my coffee and sigh, this morning. I’m groggy. I could go back to sleep, so easily. It’s a work day, though, and I will log on to my work laptop in a few minutes, and get started. The work day felt pretty short, yesterday (it wasn’t). Will today?

Yesterday’s moment of tension, between my Traveling Partner and I, is still on my mind. It wasn’t a big deal, and it wasn’t about him, or us. I had a moment of feeling “overwhelmed”…by circumstances, by demands on my time, by lack of cognitive bandwidth, by a sense that I somehow wasn’t doing enough to actually take care of myself, and I started weeping over the need to do one more thing in what had already felt like a very busy day. It didn’t last long, and once the moment passed I was more easily able to reflect on it (and take time to meditate, properly, for a few minutes). What was up with all that? I’m not sure, and I’m not sure it matters. If I were a younger woman, I likely would have called it “hormones”, just based on the way it swept in and swamped me, and then simply dissipated. I have a sip of coffee, and let it go. That moment has passed.

This coffee is good. My shoulders ache, an extension of the pain in my neck, and back. I breathe, exhale, relax… I go through all the physical therapy stuff, looking for relief. I go through my history, on YouTube, and remove all the COVID-19 stuff, all the Democratic campaign stuff, all the stuff clicked on absent-mindedly that I don’t need clogging my feed… maybe the content will improve? Small steps to improve the quality of my experience, generally. I glance at the time, reluctant to yield my consciousness or my soul to the work world, again, so soon. There is more to do, and to enjoy, with life’s precious few mortal years, and this morning I find myself more than usually resentful of having to maintain “gainful employment”. I’m yearning for “a proper rest”…

…Then it hits me; once source of background stress is simply the right-now reality of having to let, now, two little vacations go, over COVID-19. Restrictions on gatherings, closures of state parks, closures of many retailers not determined to be “essential”… I was really looking forward to a spring camping outing (and entire week out in the trees), but the reservation has already been canceled by the state park system, as a recent measure to limit the spread of the pandemic. I am “dealing with” the prolonged stay-at-home social distancing mandate pretty well, generally, but this morning? I also find myself seriously peeved about a vacation planned for May becoming… not a thing, after all. I could certainly still take the time off… but… how will it be any different than any day at home, right now? I sigh, and stare moodily into my now-cold coffee.

I breathe, exhale, relax… and let all that go (again). Another breath, another opportunity to let it go. Again.

And another breath. Another opportunity to let go. I make the effort to feel it effortlessly.

And another breath. Another letting go. Another effort. It amounts to practice.

We become what we practice; so I practice calm, and contentment. I practice non-attachment. I practice breathing. I practice letting go.

…I practice beginning again. πŸ™‚

So… maybe you’re “stuck at home” practicing “social distancing” during this pandemic, and potentially feeling a bit bored or restless or feeling cut off? That seems entirely within the norms of human experience, doesn’t it? Are you there, yet?

Not me. I mostly don’t expect to be. Succumbing to boredom isn’t a major concern for me. I could say “because I have an internet connection”, and while that’s definitely helpful (games, news, entertainment, and even shopping… all right there), it’s not actually what my contentment rests upon, where avoiding boredom is concerned. For me, that’s about something so “old school” that it rather amusingly escapes many people’s attention as an option. I’m talking about the humble book.

You heard me right, People. I said it. Read a book. Read several. Become immersed in worlds you never previously imagined. Tackle those “hard” books you’ve dodged for years. Slog through something you’ve always felt you “should” read, but just… haven’t. Read out loud to each other, if you are “stuck at home” with a loved one, or a room-mate. Seriously, though? If that’s not enough – write one. You heard me right, People. Reading doesn’t interest you? How about writing your story? Yes, you, Human. Why not? Got a story in your head? Head over to the computer, sit down, and begin typing it out to share with the world. Self-publish on Amazon. How quickly can you call yourself an author while you’re socially distancing yourself during this pandemic?

No, I’m not joking. I’m just pointing out how silly boredom actually is, ifΒ  you haven’t read all the books, if you haven’t taken time to write your memoirs, or a story you made up in your head that you just keep coming back to, or even a cookbook of those family recipes you cherish. Seriously.

I’m not telling you what to do. I’m just saying, you have options. Don’t want to read? How about tidying up? Work off some of the tasks on that to-do list that’s laying around. Fix that drawer that sticks. Clean the garage. Get the spring garden started. There is a lot to living life that doesn’t require constant companionship or crowds. πŸ˜‰

Well, damn, look at the time! Already time to begin again. πŸ˜€

I am drinking my coffee this morning with that certain feeling of satisfaction and relief that comes from completing a task I wasn’t looking forward to, or may even feel a deeply anchored reluctance towards taking on the task at all. There are quite a few things that fit this category, some pretty ordinary things: vacuuming, filing my taxes, tackling a sink full of dirty dishes, raking or sweeping leaves, weeding the garden… sometimes it’s just pure resistance to the discomforts of manual labor, sometimes it is some sort of strange mental “block” that holds me back. So human. Tasks toward which I feel anyΒ  sort of resistance or reluctance can prevent me taking on the rest of a to-do list of needful things; hard to get past that one thing I just don’t “feel like” doing. Very human, indeed.

This morning, I’m smiling because I’ve finished off one such task, and entirely overlooked even feeling the weight of any reluctance, at all, during that process. Almost… pleasant. Definitely emotionally neutral, if nothing else. No baggage. I grin to myself, and have another swallow of almost-cold coffee, and considering planning a spring camping trip for myself. I wonder, contentedly, if my Traveling Partner will want to go? I keep my planning sufficiently open to permit it, without any concern or sorrow that he likely won’t go; our outdoor preferences are enough different that we truly don’t enjoy all the same things, done the same way. That doesn’t bother me at all. We need some time apart every bit as much as we enjoy (and need) time together. πŸ™‚ The bigger question is actually… April… or May? LOL

I let my mind wander to my walk, yesterday, instead of indulging my desire to plan an outing…

It was a lovely morning to walk along the riverbank.

Camping, hiking, walking… it’s about that moment of solitude and contentment, a moment of stillness, in the trees, on the seashore, along the riverbank… time spent walking, breathing, and contemplating. Time spent awake, aware, and present in the moment. It is about sufficiency, and perspective.

I woke to rain, today, and I am feeling restless, and eager to put a few more miles on my boots before the weekend ends. I had planned to work in the garden, but it was too early for it when I woke, and too rainy. Later, maybe. The rain dampens my plan to walk along the riverbank, again, too. I’ll still get a walk in… but when? Where?

I think about distant mountains, and waves lapping the shore. I think about Spring approaching.

I think over my short list of things I committed to doing this weekend and take a few minutes to sort it out in my head. It’s not that much to do, really, and mostly very routine sorts of things setting up the new work week that begins tomorrow, plus a creative task that gives me a measure of real joy, and a task I’d like to get done to make the house more comfortable. Putting my walking near the top of my list this morning makes sense; my Traveling Partner is still sleeping, and noisy housekeeping would be unkind.

I smile contentedly. I’ve got a good plan for a pleasant day, and it’s enough. It’s time to finish this coffee and begin again. πŸ™‚

I woke before dawn. As daylight began to shift the darkness to light, a foggy damp morning begins to reveal itself. Colder than yesterday, but not icy, probably a good one for an early walk, I think to myself, rather unenthusiastically, as it happens.

I consider the morning, and the moment.

I sip my coffee, dressed for walking. Yesterday it took a peculiarly long time to “talk myself into it”, and strangely, I was still halfheartedly trying to excuse myself from not going for a walk, although I feel better, and enjoy my day more, when I hit the trail for a couple of miles. That time alone with my thoughts, free of media inputs and other consciousnesses, is more than valued; it is part of what keeps me mentally and emotionally well. Dodging the effort is not a helpful thing. So, out I went. I returned home feeling sated, refreshed, and accomplished; 3 miles felt comfortable. The hill is no longer daunting, it’s just a hill.

This morning, I know I’ll go. Soon. I’ll finish this coffee, and lace up my boots, grab my cane, and go. I may drive up to the path along the Columbia river, this morning. Seems a lovely morning for it.

The morning continues to lighten, as the day develops, quietly.

There is so much disappointing chaos, corruption, and madness, in the world right now. I sometimes find it terrifying. I nearly always find it disheartening. I walk in the mornings, listening to bird song and breezes, and the sound of my footsteps, and let all of that go for at least a couple miles, and a handful of pleasant moments. The weekends feel shorter without the walks. Funny how this time spent with – and for – myself can seem to “stretch time”. I breath, exhale, and relax. I feel the hint of a smile on my face.

…Nice morning for walking…

My mind wanders pleasantly to the Spring ahead. Is it too soon to plan that first camping trip? Where would I go? The coast? The forest? Will the end of March (specifically, the Vernal Equinox) be too soon? (I don’t much like camping if the evenings/nights are cold; it makes my bones ache.) The winter has been strangely mild, perhaps the Spring will be unusually warm? (It may be unusually cold…) I smile at my own eagerness, sipping my coffee and delaying the start of my walk, to consider walking elsewhere, weeks from now. I am amused, without irritation, at the implied internal conflict. This morning, I am gentle with myself, uncritical, and unhurried. There is time for meditation. Time for coffee. Time for the outside temperature to warm up another degree or two. There is even time to recharge my wearable device, so handy for tracking my mileage.

I contentedly dilly-dally over my morning coffee, savoring the morning quiet. I appreciate it, and it is enough.

Mindfulness, perspective, & sufficiency: ingredients for a lovely morning.

I finish my coffee and lace my boots. It’s time to begin again.

It’s the sort of statement that sums up most things; this won’t last forever. The current presidency? Won’t last forever. That fantastic sale in a flyer that came in the mail? Won’t last forever. This rainy morning? Won’t last forever. The nuts I put out for the squirrels? Won’t last forever. American “Democracy”? Won’t last forever. Western civilization? Won’t last forever. A terrible moment of panic or anxiety? Won’t last forever. The saddest thing about all of that that is the vast number of lovely things that also won’t last (and how many of those we overlook, in favor of yielding our attention to things that suck). The most precious thing about that is that we do get to enjoy those lovely experiences, and all of life’s joys, if we slow down long enough to notice they are happening. That, and the comfort in surrendering to the awareness that however bad things may seem… it won’t last forever.

“This, too, shall pass.”

We have choices, though, and the choices we make determine, often, how fleeting the worst of our experience may be, and even how enduring our joy can be. Something to think about. What are you choosing? What do you practice?

If we are permanently focused on the the things that stress us out the most, full-time, continuously ruminating on the disasters humanity seems mired in, or the shambles our own life is in, or how terrible this or that experience is, in some limited moment, we put ourselves at risk of coloring the entirety of our experience in this way. Tragedy and terror and sorrow can become the whole of our experience, and could do so regardless what percentage of our lived minutes are actually of that character or quality. Think about this with some care; if you spend all your content-consuming minutes watching the news, spun in a way to engage your attention, and evoke an emotion, and don’t make some effort to lift your head to experience your own actual moments, here and now, what will the quality of your experience become?

…I’m not saying don’t be angry about the things in life that warrant anger, and change – for sure, lift your voice in protest. Take action to make a change in the world. Definitely do that! Just don’t sit around allowing your own life to slowly crumble under the weight of the world’s exaggerated decay.

I’m living my life these days far more than I spend time reading or watching the news. I already know our government is corrupt. I already know that war is a terrible thing and that the cost is always too high. I already know that far too many people are willfully cruel to others, with the flimsiest justification. Human primates can be pretty fucking horrible creatures. I do my best to be better than that, myself, with my own choices, in my own life. It is, if nothing else, a starting point.

This morning, a quick glance at the headlines assures me the world is burning, and humanity is doing little to stop that from happening. Perhaps we really are rushing headlong to our own destruction (and doing so for the sake of power or profit, for fuck’s sake – damn we’re stupid creatures, sometimes). This morning, my morning, doesn’t have to be marred by any of that, in this moment. Instead, I’ll walk and consider how best to be the woman I most want to be, myself, in spite of all that. I’ll consider how to treat others well, with great consideration, and also without ethically compromising myself, and without being dishonest. Seems a good goal to have in life. (I’ve heard worse.)

I sit watching the rain fall, thinking about what trail to walk, this morning, waiting for the rain to stop, drinking coffee… and thinking about beginning again. πŸ™‚ The thoughts are nothing, unless I get some verbs involved. True of walks. True of political protest. True of ethical behavior. Nothing lasts forever – but we sure don’t have to wait around for forever to prove that.

I think about the weight I’m losing, slowly, steadily… I think about the pain I am in. Focusing on one results in feeling encouraged and upbeat. Focusing on the other pulls me down, infuses my moment with futility, and frustration. Whichever I choose colors my experience.

What do you want of the world? What do you want of yourself? If you don’t see it in your life right now, what will you choose to do to bring change? It’s always a good time to begin again.