One thing that I love is hiking.
I like being in the woods; it’s difficult to explain why.
Part of it is because I have size issues. Ok, let me explain. I’ve always had a sort of hyper-awareness of physical space, and how we fill it. I spent a long time feeling as though I took up too much space in the world, or that my physical body had become larger than it deserved to be. I felt guilty for having presence, for filling space … too tall, too broad, too heavy, too intrusive upon the rest of the world. So I’d try to shrink. I still do, sometimes.
At the same time, though, and for as long as I can remember, I’ve also felt as though I’m so much bigger than my body. In second grade I remember wondering how there’d ever been room enough in my body for all the things I was learning. Later, the sense that I had entire worlds inside of my head, and a brain that never slowed down – endlessly churning out matter. Surely, it must take up space. How could I contain it all? I felt closed in by the walls around me, and closed in by my own body. A very literal sense of impending explosion is what I felt. Feel.
But outside, I was – am – free. Suddenly, there is room for me and for everything inside of me. Infinite space. The idea comforts me.
In a way, it’s probably the closest I’ve ever gotten to faith – to feeling Faith with a capital F. It’s hard to stand atop a mountain without looking around in awe and sensing a much larger design at play, and some sort of creator powerful enough to make … this. [You sweep your hand across the sky.] All this. The vastness and the wonder.
And I’m a part of that creation, and in the mountains, I can feel that. Like the trees and the rocks, I have a right to be here.
I’m planning a trip, a hiking trip – and I’m planning to do it alone. I haven’t told anyone yet, mostly because I’m afraid that the first reaction I get will be one of discouragement. I’m pulled so strongly by the idea that it has even overcome my own internal discouragement, the highest barrier of them all. If I can clear that one, and I have, then there’s simply nothing else in my way.
I want to do this because I’m at a point where I have a need that’s inching its way up toward food and water and shelter and the other biggies.
I need to get my shit together.
So, let’s build this metaphor:
Sometimes when you’re hiking you have to cross streams by stepping from rock to rock until you reach the other side. Sometimes – if the stream is wide enough – you get to the other side and realize that you’ve veered off course and you have trouble picking up the trail again. Eventually you find it, but only after a few brief moments of panic.
Right now, in my life, I’m standing on a big rock in middle of a stream. This rock is sturdy and dry, but my hike is far from over and if I’m ever going to summit, I need to get moving. I can’t just stand in the middle of this stream forever. I’m safe for the moment, but making no progress.
I’m hesitant, though, because I can’t see the next best step – this rock is too slippery, so I test another with my foot and find it’s too wobbly. There’s one that looks good up ahead, but it’s too far away and I might fall trying to get there. What’s worse, I think I’ve lost where the trail picks up on the other side, too; I keep turning around to see the trail behind me, to see where I’ve come from. The trail behind me is comforting and familiar (Should I go back? I could just go back. I really should just go back.) but it’s not serving me any more in this moment. What’s my next step? And in which direction?
I don’t know anything. Lost? Scared? Yes.
But … still … I can picture the summit. I’ve seen it in photos and I’ve caught a few glimpses on this trip already – and for now, that is enough. It pushes me.
I have no illusions or expectations that I’ll go on this trip and suddenly have it all ironed out. I’m not looking for a transformation, or a revelation, or a mystical sign, or a pep talk from God or a fist-bump from Jesus. I’m not going to come back with the rest of my life mapped out. That’s not the point.
What I need is just this sliver of my timeline to be alone with myself, in that infinite space, where I can unlock all of the things rattling around inside my head and let them fly. If some of them leave and don’t return, that is ok with me. Other things may grow and expand, but they’ll stay with me if they’re meant to.
And then we can get to work.
Get my shit together.
And get off the fucking rock.
I’m doing this in the place where I first felt that sense of belonging, against the backdrop of nature and Faith. In the place where the space that I take up is exactly what it was meant to be and exactly what I deserve. In the place where my existence has never been questioned or judged. In the place where I am ok because I have always been ok – I was created ok, and enough, and worthy – just as I am. The place where I am already exactly who I need to be.
Here’s to the next adventure.