Archives for category: Washington Trails

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? 😀

 

I don’t honestly feel at all like sleeping on the ground, or dealing with overnight chill, or having to use vault toilets or a hole in the ground… or… any of the things that go along with camping, really. Not this weekend. I do, however, very much feel like hiking a few miles alone with my thoughts. 🙂 It’s nice having the car. It’s nicer that it is my own, and of the sort far more appropriate to trail heads and rougher roads than the luxury sedan I’d been driving. (None of that diminishes my gratitude for having the use of my partner’s car for a year; I needed it, he was right.) The weekend is my own, and I’ll go where I please, travel the roads I like, and find the miles that suit me most to wander.

I sip my coffee and consider my rather lengthy list of hikes I’d like to take. I decide I’d rather not drive more than an hour this morning, having slept a bit later than I expected to, and also wanting to go to the Farmer’s Market this morning. My smile becomes a grin contemplating the luxury of being able, if I chose, to also just get in the car and drive down to my Traveling Partner’s location, and visit him there. Any time. There is nothing to stop me doing so, and no one to whom I must answer. That feels amazing. I sit with the feeling and the awareness awhile longer; I haven’t always truly had the freedom to be accountable primarily to myself, only, and it’s an intoxicating level of adult freedom.

This is a weekend of choices. One of those is that I chose to invest in my longer-term emotional and physical wellness by making this particular weekend mostly about self-care, also. Yesterday was spent advocating for important social issues as a citizen, and getting ample rest as a human being. Today? Today I want to get out into the trees, put some miles behind me, take some pictures, find some solitude and relief from the din and background noise of the world. Tomorrow, too. Even Monday (after my first Qigong class, fairly early in the morning). Something about the car I’d been driving was keeping me from hiking in some subtle way. (I think perhaps my reluctance to leave a largish luxury car parked at a trailhead and at risk of break-ins, when it wasn’t even my own car, was a bit of baggage I didn’t manage well.) The Mazda fairly begs to be left-along-the-side-of-the-road-back-soon-I-promise at every trail head I spot on every drive I take. lol I literally want to just park it, however abruptly, hop out and walk down each unexpected mystery trail just to see where they lead. 😀 This bodes well for future fitness, and I’m not inclined to fight it – I just want to get out there, and explore the world on foot, with a significant lack of human companionship.

New beginnings aren’t just an assortment of lovely sunrises, or yet another work shift, or one more morning waking from one more night of sleep; there are opportunities here for growth, change, and transcendence. These are chances to work through past pain, to set down more baggage and walk on – both metaphorically, and for real. What was yesterday about? Can I do better today? What choices does that take? How does this particular morning hold the potential to see me become more the person I most want to be at the end of this particular day? It’s a process filled with verbs, and my results vary. Still, I get as many chances to begin again as there are sunrises – or moments. There are choices involved.

I’m ready. It’s time to grab a map. 🙂

I’m home for the day. The poor quality of my sleep continued to affect my experience much of the day. I arrived home feeling… sad. Drained. Sorrowful. Mortal. Contemplating such fun topics on the commute home as “do any of us really deserve to live?” and “would I spend my life this way if I knew I would be dead in 2 years?”. It was a grim and unsatisfying drive.

Now, home with my thoughts, armed with almost 5 years of better practices to fall back on, and still I pick at the open wound that is the recollection of last night’s nightmares. I continue to fuss quietly, seething, alone, and feeling disrupted. “It’s all in my head”, I remind myself. In this moment, right here, I am unconvinced, and my solitude is less than ideal. Words and phrases, lacking in context or purpose in the moment, bring me to the brink of tears, when they reach my consciousness. It’s foolishness of the first order, nonetheless it is difficult to dismiss it when I am tired, and feeling rather sad. It feeds itself. I even know this.

I stew in it awhile. The traffic beyond my windows aggravates me. I am sound sensitive, and easily irritated. I am sleepy – but also restless. My nightmares left me feeling averse, at this point, to falling asleep again; I don’t want to return to The Nightmare City. Not tonight. Not right now. Not when it is obvious that the current denizens of my darkest dreams really get what terrifies me most at this time in my life. I don’t want to be the grown up in the room… I want someone else to do that for me. I want to be held. Told “everything will be okay” – in spite of there being very little actually “wrong”, at all. I want someone to check for monsters under the bed, and in the closets, and care for me as though these concerns are “real”. I want someone to promise me things, and assure me that there is a happily ever after if only I am “a good girl” or “work hard enough”… or some other bullshit combination of magic words intended to soothe the savage bitch.

Being tired isn’t a good state of being for me, generally speaking. A wave of anger washes over me as I wonder how the hell I survived my 20s at all…? The anger is no more (or less) “real” than the other emotions that crash upon my cognitive shore, wave upon wave, disconnected from circumstances. There is more to come. I guess I’m fortunate, in general. This bullshit? It is bullshit.

This bullshit, though? It’s hard, yeah. This part, here? This doesn’t seem to get any easier over time. Mired in my own bullshit, for the moment, aware I could do more differently, could begin again, could move the fuck on from this… I know, I know. Choices. Verbs. Ennui overtakes good sense. Anhedonia steps in for will. There are, at least, these words. I can see them, as I write. I hear my voice – finally, I am heard, even in this dark moment. I’m here for me, at least that far. I’m not yet despairing… that’s something. I hold onto that. I breathe. I have a big glass of water, and marvel at how refreshing that can actually be. I take a couple Tylenol for this chronic headache (an exception, almost on the order of “a treat”), knowing that even a few hours of relief, in this state I’m in now, will make a difference – enough to be worth accepting the risks and contraindications. My temper flares up, and cools, again and again, disconnected from anything going on around me. “This too shall pass”, a calmer inner voice observes gently, kindly, full of love and understanding.

I breathe. I relax. I let go one notion, then another. Breathe. Exhale. Let the stray thoughts that plague me fall away like wisps of mist on a summer morning, before the heat of the day develops. Another breath, another moment. One by one. My seething fury begins to ease. I’m just tired. I put my ear plugs in, and add noise-canceling headphones. There is quiet now, except for my tinnitus. It’s enough. It’s enough to endure. It’s enough to survive. It’s enough to have choices and to attempt, in some small way, to choose. It’s enough to recognize agency, even if I fail to make use of it. Right now? “Enough” is plenty – I can hold on to that, perhaps long enough to get some rest.

Eventually, I will understand to begin again. Eventually, I can walk on from this moment. It’ll pass.

I am slow to wake this morning. The alarm roused me, but I sat quietly for some minutes trying to understand why I was awake, and why the light was on. I have trudged through the morning so far, mostly spent looking over my camping plans for an upcoming weekend of beach camping spent meditating, walking, and observing the autumnal equinox, but not really getting anywhere with my thoughts; I haven’t any.

I notice my first coffee is nearly gone, and more than an hour of my precious limited lifetime too, and still I am not really awake. I add another item to my “to do list” for the upcoming weekend, which I plan to spend on quality of life improvements, generally, and housekeeping, tidying up, and things of that sort. A relaxed weekend of taking care of myself and my living space seems like just the thing to follow a weekend road trip.

I make another coffee. I make some oatmeal. I remind myself to start the dishwasher when I leave for the day. I wonder briefly when I will actually feel awake, and “why today?” I could so easily just go back to sleep… a rare thing for me. I find myself wishing it were already the weekend so that I could – also not my usual approach to morning. A loud irritated sigh punctuates the silence. I definitely need to begin this one again…but…where to start?

This is a very physical experience, so I begin in a physical place. I get up and stretch, and take some deep cleansing breathes, make my way to the kitchen and pour a big glass of water, and take a multi-vitamin. Oatmeal is my common breakfast, but it can’t be said to be nutritionally dense as it is. Coffee? Isn’t water. I walk from room to room drinking my water, and adding a few things to the list of planned weekend tasks. I make a point of being aware of my posture, and holding myself fully upright as I move through my space. I make a point of being aware of my breathing. Hell – I make a point of being aware.

…In time, being “aware” becomes being awake. Beginning again? It’s a thing we get to do, if we choose to do it. There are verbs involved. My results vary. Still… as often as I’d like to do so, I can begin again.

There were other things on my mind to write about as the evening ended last night. Oregon is burning. It’s sort of on my mind, you know? The air is hot, sort of humid or thick feeling in my lungs, and irritating to breathe. The smokey sky has worsened over the past two days, as has the fire in the gorge. I chuckle when I think of the POTUS awkward hurricane Harvey photo-op; I know he won’t be coming to Oregon to be pelted with rocks by black bloc protesters. For some reason, that makes me smile in spite of the terrible natural tragedy of the many wildfires destroying hundreds of thousands of acres of forest as days pass (at least one of which was caused by careless people who didn’t think the fire safety restrictions applied to them). This too will pass. The fires will dwindle, or burn out once their fuel source is consumed. The weather will change, as will the climate. The land will be re-seeded, and will bloom again. More likely than not, the Earth will survive us.

Will we? 

Isn’t that what we’re really all afraid of? It’s less about the Earth than it is about our own experience on it. Perhaps we are seeing the end of our human infestation on the Earth…? Grim thought. We could do better with our resources, with our conservatorship of this fragile singularly lovely world, and with each other. We could choose to save the world…

Will we begin again?

 

Everyone needs some down time now and then, and I’ll take some this weekend. A vacation more than an escape, and as much because I have the short-term convenience of having a car for the weekend – and there’s a meteor shower to see! I will be away, offline, in the trees, for a couple days. Back again soon. 🙂

We each have an idea of what feels peaceful. :-)

We each have an idea of what feels peaceful. 🙂

I hope you enjoy your weekend, whatever you choose to do with it. 🙂