Archives for posts with tag: don’t forget to bring a towel!

I talk a fair bit about journeys, paths, traveling, my Traveling Partner… these are literal experiences, and also metaphors. I figure mentioning that is worthwhile, now and then. I use these concepts to give context to bigger questions. “Journey” is pretty vague… by intent. There are so many sorts of experiences of journeys, you see, everything from paved freeways with plentiful amenities along the way, and handy GPS, to unmarked trails through wild spaces, no map, no milestones, no safety net – you need something, you better bring it. The options are numerous, as are the choices.

How we prepare, and what we bring – as tools or baggage – matter to every journey we take, and ever day we live life.

Maps are handy… definitely bring one of those along on any journey… if one exists, at all. Sometimes, some journeys, there is no map and we’re utterly on our own, blazing our own trail through life’s wild spaces. It often feels that way, even when we have an actual usefully accurate map in our hands. Think that one over. How often has someone given you useful worthwhile truly helpful advice, or recommendations, that you disregarded… discovering too late that it really was just the thing to have done, to get the result you were seeking? ๐Ÿ™‚

Sometimes I over-do the planning, packing, and preparation, and get part way along my travels heavily encumbered by a ton of crap I did not need to drag along with me. Baggage comes in a lot of forms. I definitely try to set as much of that down as I possibly can. “Traveling light” has this tendency to make long miles feel shorter. Everything we carry with us feels heavier over time. We become fatigued with the weight of what we carry, particularly if it does not serve an immediate necessary purpose.

The nature of the journey we set ourselves upon matters, too…

Sometimes the journey is a rough trail, steep, muddy, and treacherous…

…Sometimes the way ahead is obvious, the journey level, and paved…

I’m just saying, as metaphors go, journeys offer a nice assortment of meaningful options to reflect upon. ๐Ÿ™‚ Where will yours take you? Do you know where you’re headed?

It looks like a good time to begin again… “Don’t forget to bring a towel!”

I’m sipping my coffee on a quiet Sunday morning. I slept in, some. I woke feeling rested, mostly. My day has a purposeful outing planned in it, one stop, out and back. My Traveling Partner and I will go together. This is still hours away. My partner is still sleeping. (My notion of “sleeping in” still finds me awake ahead of many people, on a Sunday. lol) Meditation. Yoga. Then, writing, right? That’s the routine, generally.

…This morning I sit sipping coffee, and for quite some time definitely not writing. Just sitting. Contemplating change. Contemplating the day ahead. Noodling around in my own head, lacking focus or intention – just here, being this moment. Reflecting on life. Sipping coffee. I’m not giving myself any shit about it; it’s enough for this moment to be what it is, right now. I don’t need more. There is no pressure on me in this moment to do more, or be anything different than this human being I have become over time. I feel fairly contented, through and through, and exist in this precious rare moment utterly without anxiety, without agenda, without worry. I’m just sitting here drinking coffee on a Sunday morning in the springtime, thinking thoughts. The sky hints at a sunny day ahead, after a rainy night.

I smile in anticipation of the pleasure in a shared drive in the countryside, later. “Enough”? More than enough. Delightful. I find myself greatly appreciating the errand that takes us out of the house today. It’s been far too rare, for what seems like a very long time (really, it’s only been about 8 weeks, I think…, but that is a long time to just “stay home”; we’re busier creatures than we knew, and it turns out staying home just indefinitely is really challenging). My mind runs down the list of “things to have when one leaves the house” these days: mask, nitrile gloves, hand sanitizer – and a positive attitude is always handy, too. What a weird time the pandemic is.

I give myself yet another moment, just relaxing and drinking coffee. No pressure. I remind myself to clean the bathroom, dust and vacuum later. Regular weekend chores. A long soak in a hot bath sounds lovely, too (I frown a moment, at the simultaneous recollection of how small our bathtub is, in this rental, still – it is sufficient, and I make room to be grateful we have indoor plumbing, hot running water, and fragrant bath products).

Today is a day. This moment is one moment. There will be others. Soon it will be time to begin again. Right now? It’s enough to enjoy this cup of coffee, on this quiet Sunday morning.

I arrived home from my camping trip filled with a sense of ease, and a sense of purpose. Recharged. Restored. Ready. I got what I needed from my time away, and felt fulfilled and satisfied.

I spent rather a lot of time gazing at the many shades of green displayed in the forest on a sunny day.

I felt fit, and accomplished. I walked miles of trails I greatly enjoy. I sat so quietly, for sufficiently long, to coach chipmunks and squirrels to come quite near. I saw deer, and snakes. I even saw a “mountain beaver” – a small mammal I’d never seen before, and didn’t know even existed until I saw it, and asked a passing forest ranger about (and then later, looked it up online for more information). Pretty splendid, generally, and very satisfying time away; I returned home content and, yes, happy.

While I was putting away my gear, I lost my balance and fell, crashing to the concrete floor of the garage with a painful cry, a loud clatter, and a thud. I’d have burst into tears, but struggled to draw a breath; the fall knocked me breathless. I further struggled to get up, surrounded by miscellaneous crap stored in that corner of the garage, some of which toppled onto me. It wasn’t helping that I could not use my right arm… at all. Weird. Painful. Frustrating to go from such a profound high to such a painful low, and so unexpectedly (and quickly). I felt stalled, diminished, and frankly rather strangely terrified (perhaps due to the painful reminder how fragile life actually is?).

My Traveling Partner helped me out with some skillful basic first aid. A weird dizzy trip to the local drugstore followed – yes, I actually thought I was “fine” to drive… one handed (and missing the use of the arm that takes care of things like the gear shift. (What the fuck, seriously? What was I thinking??) I needed a sling for my arm, and more ice packs. I don’t specifically remember striking my head when I fell, but by the time I got home from the store, it was clear that I may have; I needed help at the store, because I couldn’t “navigate” the product aisles to find the slings and ice packs. Things weren’t making sense as they commonly do. Damn it.

…I was super happy to make it safely home. My partner has been helpful, kind, and loving, with minimal affectionate teasing about roughing it for days without difficulty and then getting hurt putting my gear away. I’m laughing about it, too, honestly. It’s … very “me”.

My shoulder hurts. It’s already beginning to feel some better, slowly, although it’ll likely be weeks before I have full use of it (range of motion, and strength) back. My body hurts, and I’ve got some amazing bruises, but… I’m okay. There’s a lot to work with here, and a lot to learn from. Chances are, if I’d felt somehow less “restored” and “fulfilled”, and a tad less merry, while I was putting away my camping gear and unloading the car, I’d have been more cautious, more attentive, and less likely to “throw my weight around” – in a fairly literal sense – and possibly have avoided that fall. It’s not the first time I’ve “fallen hard” (literally or metaphorically) when I felt seriously deeply happy. “Happy” can sometimes be a risky distraction from practical matters immediately at hand. It’s an experience I could use more practice with. lol

I smirk at myself, and sip my coffee – left-handed. I notice that my cup is on the wrong side of my desk to do that easily, setting me up for future spilling of coffee. I correct the location of my coffee cup, and let that go.

I’m sore all over, some of it from camping and hiking, most of it from taking a bad fall after returning home. Over the days to come, I’ll hurt less, and hopefully gain wisdom (and experience points) through healing and reflection. Choosing my path is only a beginning; walking it is where the value lies, and there are verbs involved, and – clearly – my results vary. LOL

Once we choose our path, we’ve still got to walk it. The journey is the destination. ๐Ÿ™‚

I look at the time, and finish my coffee. It’s a good opportunity to begin again. ๐Ÿ™‚

Sipping coffee, planning for camping, and feeling contented; it’s a pleasant start to the morning. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m excited about my camping trip – and it’s almost here! Next week. Whether I write or not, I’ve no idea, I do know there’s no cell signal available through much of that large beautiful hike-able acreage. Just… none. If my recollection is correct, there’s a hint of a bit of a signal now and then, but only at this one particular spot, and it’s a trek of a couple miles (uphill) to reach it, and it’s not reliable…so… I most likely won’t be posting during that time, regardless whether or not I do write. ๐Ÿ™‚

Honestly… lots of past posts to explore, and it’s not as if I’m truly writing wholly original content, is it, since I generally write the same things, most days… drinking coffee… breathing… good self-care… choices, verbs, practicing practices, and beginning again… right? ๐Ÿ˜‰ Don’t let yourself down on my account; I’ll be right back. ๐Ÿ˜€

There are paths yet to be explored – where will yours take you?

I’m eager for the break in routine, and for the days and nights among the trees. I’m eager to hear bird song, and not traffic, and the loud peeps and chirps and calls of chipmunks and squirrels, instead of the conversation of commuters and random human beings out in the world. I’m eager to read the weather, the actual weather, instead of the news. ๐Ÿ™‚

I remind myself not to forget coffee!

I have a list of gear I need to either double-check that I do still have it, or pick it up before I go. I keep adding things to it, and crossing things off. I enjoy camping much more when I am prepared…and I also enjoy traveling light, and without excessive weight or baggage dragging me down. I’ve got a list that makes sense. It’s an observation that doesn’t last long when the next question hits me…

…What if it rains?

I laugh so hard I snort coffee, which is less than pleasant, but now I’m giggling; I literally haven’t made any specific effort to plan for any sort of significant rain. It’s August. Why would it rain? Only… it may, and it could, and it’s been known to happen, and… it’s in the forecast. lol So…?

Like a lot of life’s circumstances, preparedness makes an easier journey, for sure. Also like life, and circumstances, it’s not particularly easy to be prepared for all of everything that could be part of my experience than I might want to… while also traveling light, and keeping baggage to a minimum. The more I am inclined to carry, the more verbs (and effort) will be involved in the journey, itself, and the more there will be to manage, deal with, juggle, find space for, when I arrive at my destination. There are choices to be made. Some circumstances are best accepted, than prepared for in advance in any notable way. (I’m not actually saying rainfall is one of those, I mean… it’s possible to shove rain gear into my backpack without adding a ton of weight to my gear!)

Don’t let a little rain stop you. ๐Ÿ™‚

Anyway. Rain is a thing that happens, even in August. I’m giggling because I enjoy the rain… but… I also dislike being soaked to the skin, catching a chill, and miserable because all my gear is soaked. lol There are definitely choices to make, and planning is a useful tool for making them. I give some thought to the rain, and my list, and make some adjustments to also account for chilly nights, and dewy cold mornings. Will I be warm enough? Cool enough? Dry enough? Will I have coffee for the mornings? Will I want paper books, or digital books? Don’t forget to bring a towel! What about tea? Broth? It’s nice to have something hot to sip on that isn’t loaded with caffeine – or sugar. What about sleep…? Do I want my cot, or an inflatable something or other? (I already know I don’t much feel like sleeping directly on the ground, on a thin sleeping mat; I’ll be out there for 4 nights.)

Everything I take on this journey, I’ll have to carry, myself.ย That’s a hell of a metaphor, right there.

I look at the time. Yeah. Already. I smile, and finish my coffee, and put aside my list. Same path, different day. I smile, and grab my keys, and my backpack, and get ready to begin again. ๐Ÿ˜€

“What’s in your wallet?” I chuckle to find jingles and advertising slogans ‘stuck in my head’ as I pack a bag for a weekend of adventure and love. I pack in a fairly structured way, beginning with thinking through what I hope to do, and envisioning getting ready for those sorts of things – what might I miss? I make a list (and yes, sorted by categories of things, it’s part of ‘who I am’). This morning, I take another look at the list and assembled the listed items, group them, pack them, and move on to the next trusting that the planning is adequate to the purpose. If I think of something I overlooked, I add it to the list as well as packing it; the list will be the last thing packed, and a handy resource on the other end of the weekend to ensure that all the things I thought I might need also make their way back with me. ๐Ÿ™‚

I don’t make a point of calling this out day-to-day, but for the benefit of those joining me here more recently; having a brain injury definitely affects how I do what I do, and it is also a very… personalized? Customized. It’s a very individual sort of thing in some regards; what works for me to cope with my own gaps, losses, quirks, etc, is very likely to be finger-print-distinctive if compared to what someone else with a TBI does to cope with their own needs. I do well making lists… which is kind of a good thing, since I also feel a certain… compulsion… to do so. ๐Ÿ™‚ We are who we are, right? I mention it, because it may be that some readers may come to this blog with the perception that there are ‘one size fits all’ perfect-fit solutions to the chaos and damage they – or a loved one – may be experiencing. It’s not that easy. Perhaps if it were as easy as following some handy steps on a cheat sheet shared by all who suffer a head injury, I wouldn’t still be noodling around blogging about ‘wtf??’, ‘how the hell??’ and ‘oh, hey… that worked’ in this haphazard trial and error sort of way? ๐Ÿ™‚ ย We are each having our own experience.

Anyway… moving on… this morning I am finding myself fairly engaged with the process of preparing for adventure, and packing what I’ll need. I consider everything quite carefully, not wanting to drag around a lot of weight that doesn’t serve a definite need. I find myself wondering how I can shift gears, and look at life itself through the lens of packing for adventure, applying the power of metaphor (and perhaps some linguistic shenanigans) to extract a better understanding of bags and ‘baggage’ on life’s journey… Could I… ‘pack lighter’? Could I drag along fewer things that no longer truly serve a purpose? If I were to consider my needs with greater care, and lighten my emotional load? I learn so much about myself, and about life and living, by contemplating the whole of it within the context of some smaller process or task.

…My poetry notebook! Damn… I almost forgot to pack it. I mean…I can write poetry on napkins in diners, and even in the quiet moments walking along, in my own head (some of my best poetry never finds its way to paper)… but… I do like writing it down neatly in my notebook, and poetry is one style of written communication which I never leave behind. The weight of a notebook, versus the weight of the unspoken word? Yeah. The notebook goes with me. ๐Ÿ™‚ (For a moment, the demon chorus in the background gives voice to a bitter and angry hurt womanย of long ago, “What are you, fucking 12?” and I am briefly stalled on the hurt I feel, delivered by my own brain. I take a deep breath, and allow myself to recognize the profound struggle to be heard represented, and showย myself a moment of real compassion – it has been hard, and there are times when I’ve hurt myself worse than the world ever would think to, and it isn’t at all necessary or helpful. I imagine a softer kinder me giving that bitter angry womanย a tender hug and a smile, as I pack the notebook; it’s important to both of us.)

Of course... the map is not the world.

Of course… the map is not the world.

It’s a lovely quiet morning with a good cup of coffee and a packing list. Adventure awaits!