Several of us had a great conversation last week. We talked about what had taken us out to the Trail, what we had hoped to get from it, and what we actually DID get out of it. We talked about the transition back to "real life" and in what ways are both working and not so much. We talked about the ups and the downs. In the interest of confidentiality, I'm not going to go into any detail of what others said. But I'll give you a few thoughts I've had since that conference call.
The Trail gets a little more distant each day, and sometimes I'm a little afraid of forgetting it altogether. There's good reason for that fear too. In this cold bitter winter, it's hard to remember the feel of the warm sun or the sweat drying in a cool breeze. I had forgotten that Odie made the Darth Vader sound EVERY night I blew up my air mattress, and I ALWAYS laughed (he had a closed cell) - that is, until our phone conversation. It was nice to just "talk Trail" again with others who were there, who know.
And, there were a few lessons I learned out there that had started to get a little hazy, things I wanted to remember and apply to this new life I was creating post-trail, but had put off to the side in the busy-ness of paying bills. Those were:
1. Being in the Present Moment. I forgot that I don't need to be completely productive every moment of the day or that it's OK to just waste time once in a while. Yes, I like to work, but I had just decided that if I didn't have anything better to do (i.e. anything planned), I might as well work. So, today, I went to an Irish pub, bought myself a whiskey, and after that, a leisurely walk- with not just one stop for ice cream, but two. Yup, wasted time, ate lots of ice cream because... well, just because. Yay me.
2. Friends. I forgot friends? Well, kinda. This is hard to explain. I have friends, but I feel separated from them. Separated by distance from my hiker family. Separated by commonality from those near me. And, when the friends from home have gotten on with their life during the 6 months I was gone, I still haven't really gotten back "in" with them. So, I worked (see above paragraph). Or I do things on my own. Which is fine. Except I'm a nomad... not a loner. There's a difference.
3. Simplicity. One reason for all my part time jobs is to put together a life that isn't as mind-numbing as pre-Trail. However, I had started to forget that my paying jobs are not what makes my life. Just like before the Trail, the most meaningful moments happen when I'm not getting paid. I don't look good on paper - my resume sucks. But when I take the time to remember the simple (and present, i.e. unexpected) moments, I realize that I have a pretty entertaining, and meaningful, life. Like above, when I remember to waste time (and NOT be sitting in my room), the simplicity of what's in front of me takes priority.
All that said, I'm grateful. Grateful for my life the way it is currently. I can't say I feel this way in every moment of every day, but I still wouldn't change where I'm at currently. I want to move on and move out of this haze. I want to get to the place where life is what I want it to be and I'm surrounded by like-minded people. But, until then, I choose to enjoy the journey, the learn from the struggle, and hone my orienteering skills as I find the new North of life.