sat in the presence of the mountain, reflecting on my roots
then i hitchhiked to the coast and sat beside the sea
north of Arcata, cold morning mist drifts through the town of Trinidad
sailboats in the floating harbor clouds of seamist wisp&pour across smooth decks bobbing gray on gray under gray
there is a stillness here
i brought a stillness here
rock formations thrust from the cove&gnarled trees
hang from exposed cliff shrouded in silver fog mist
sun comes and i bathe in the light, cold wind, cold
foam, waves shimmer charcoal sand reflections of cloud-blown sky
i sit and try to listen.
have i learned what i needed to learn from this journey?
I remember long ago when I wondered if it was possible to travel indefinitely, feel at home within oneself, survive without money, trust in the goodness of people, etc. It’s been nearly two years now that I’ve been on the road. I just left Boulder with 20 bucks&only what I could carry on my back however many days or weeks ago and hitchhiked from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean and broke a guitar and was given a ukulele and lost things and found things and made friends and said goodbyes and I have more food with me than I can possibly eat.
Have I learned what I needed to learn from this journey?
At first these travels were an external manifestation of the inner journey, but now I think I’m getting the two mixed up. All my unexamined struggles still exist. Traveling doesn’t erase them; they just shift forms. I still seek approval, I still care what other people think. Only, instead of trying to impress people by making a lot of money or getting a good job, I try to have radical experiences and awesome stories to prove to others that what I’m doing is good. I still judge people; despite my efforts to be non-judgmental, I still make assumptions about what other people will think of ME, which is itself a judgment. I still become someone I’m not when I think I have to; I don’t plaster on a smile to be professional at my job, but I plaster on a smile when hitchhiking to make myself seem friendly, and I make up a destination city because I assume people will think I’m weird if I say I don’t know where I’m going. So I lie about that in order to get the rides that I want. The list goes on and on.
I collect a handful of smooth pieces of agate from the muddy cliffs, and then I make a list of things I love about the way I’ve been living: I spend my time in ways of my own choosing. I have the freedom and ability to go anywhere I want. I’m guided by nothing but what my heart says. Paying attention to the things around me. Meeting awesome people. Etc. Then I make another list of my current unmet needs: I’d like a space of my own, somewhere I can relax, a safe place to sleep, a creative sanctuary where I can write. I long to be part of a community of people, or at least see a few faces on a regular basis, not constantly have to say goodbye. I’d like the time/space/technology to write seriously, instead of scribbling out these blogs whenever I can make it to a public library. And so on.
I suddenly feel open to the idea of letting go of the travels for a while. Yes, having a home would be nice. I don’t want to be in one place forever, but it would be wonderful to have a place to slow down and be still and meet some of these needs of mine for a little while at least. Yet what would that actually mean? I want a space and a few friends. So, I move into an apartment? That would mean signing a lease binding me to the place for what, 6 or 12 months, which means I’d be paying bills, which means I’d have to get a job, which means I’d need a car to get to my job, which means I’d be paying more bills, I’d be paying taxes, I’d start accumulating possessions to fill the empty apartment….
But I don’t want those things.
I make another list. This is a list of compromises I don’t think I’m willing to make: I do not want to spend my time doing anything I’d rather not be doing, just because I feel like I “have to.” I do not want to be contractually bound to any particular place or space; if I’m staying somewhere, I want it to be because it feels right to me, not because I’ve signed a piece of paper or because it would be easier to stay than to go. Is this asking too much?
So the situation is pretty simple. If what I want right now is to go home, whatever that means–I would want to create home in a way that works for me, not mold my values and priorities to fit with society’s loaded concept of home. I want to spend a little while in one place, have a space of my own and a few friends, continue living deliberately, find a way to do something good with the experiences I’ve had, without accepting the standard baggage and chains that society tells me must go along with all of this. Is this my current challenge? Perhaps it is time for a shift.
When I left the ocean, I drank a steaming cup of coffee at a local organic cafe and then hitchhiked down the coast until sunset and slept in a pear orchard.