Blog Entry #1:
[NOTE: This first entry is long and philosophical. If you are more interested in the who/what/when/where of a typical travel blog rather than the how and why of it, I will be creating a category of blog posts with those aspects of the experience. I believe people read travel blogs for different reasons and I hope to organize my entries in a way that you don’t have to sift through “boring” stuff to get to what you’re interested in, or never bother reading after the first week. I’m throwing a lot of deep personal stuff here, and I hope it’s not over the top. But this experience for me is about expressing my deepest honestly. And truly, I don’t feel like I have anything to hide. So please bear with me as I struggle through figuring out what, how and how much to share.]
5/27/14, 4:00PM Alaska time.
Sitting in a large dark booth, concealed from the invigorating geological and zoological visual diversions that surround the SS Kennicott as it carries me North, I finally begin to write. Many who know me may be surprised to know, given my verbosity, how difficult it has been to release the written words which accurately describe the medley of thoughts and emotions that have occupied my awareness in recent hours, days, and weeks. Trying to write again after 6 months of dormancy, I can sense a familiar inertial force. It first emanates in my chest as a gentle clenching, just unpleasant enough for my mind to swoop in and decide it’s meaning: “Maybe you can start writing a little later, when you really feel like it, so you don’t impose forceful tension on the very thing you want to be expressing out of ease and sincerity.” I know how important it is to spend regular time reflecting on my experience during this journey, and sharing it with those for whom I care so deeply. But I know this tightness all too well. It has been the imperceptibly colossal force that has derailed countless pursuits thus far. After much listening over these last 3 days stuck on a boat, I realized the this force will continue to defeat the nascent inclination toward a new path… until it doesn’t. The only way to start a new path within this challenging psychological terrain is to just start it. It may never feel like the ‘right’ time. More likely it will feel, as it has in the past, that I should have just started long ago. And so with gentle but firm resignation, I am choosing to push through this resistance to see if there is an ease just on the other side. Very interesting how just writing that last statement, I can actually already feel something in me shift. Perhaps that transition into a new path is a simple one for many. For me the Nike motto (“Just do it”) is a lesson of which I must remind myself throughout every day.
And so I begin, thinking about how to think about beginnings….
I spoke to a personal coach many months ago for a short while about how to plan for this journey when I was still debating doing it. He shared his opinion about how important it was to “end well” from the previous life in order to walk freely and untethered into the next one. I feel as though I have done that the best I could with no regrets. I walked through the last through months feeling every painful emotion. Every doubt and fear was laboriously perceived. Every searing loss of each rich aspect of the last life, from people to pup, ritual to residence, rocked me to my core. All the while, I continued to respond to these thoughts and feelings begging me to stay with the simple statement, “… and I’m doing this anyway.” In this moment, I realize the idea of ending “well” is also true for a new beginning. So how do I begin this new course with the structure to keep me moving forward in my growth, while allowing for enough freedom to stray from that structure as life offers it’s unpredictable lessons?
I am considering attending to how I care for my body. What I should eat as I begin my journey, how I spend my resting time, and what I choose to write about in these entries. I’m contemplating how to implement random acts of kindness when the opportunities don’t present themselves obviously. What occurs to me in this moment however, above all those things, is to focus first on compassion. I hold so tightly onto the concept that there is a “right” way to do things, and that I can’t relax until I have some confirmation that I’m doing that. I know how transparent this attitude is, and must begin each moment with a deep breath that a correct pathway through this experience does not, and cannot, exist. And another. And another. I must hold this experience gently as it is, and take it in fully through all the available senses.
A question that continues to arise throughout my days aboard this ship continues to face me at various moments, “So, why exactly are you doing this??” The very tone of the question exposes an internal attitude that I shouldn’t be doing it, and that I must prove the valor if this choice amidst all the reasons to stop. So letting go of the need to prove anything, and asking from a place of spaciousness, I get the following information:
1. Because I still believe, despite my life experience thus far, that I can experience a life in which I am free from the attacking voices that have plagued my waking life thus far, howling:
“You are meant for more than this.”
“You are wasting the gifts you were given with the life you are living.”
“You are acting out like a child. You’re still lost as you have always been.”
“You should know by now who you want to be when you grow up. So grow up already and settle down.”
“You should have these things by now as well:
– a home
– financial security”
Right now, I have to believe that endlessly striving to meet the expectations of these harsh voices will never lead to happiness. As soon as one benchmark is achieved, another is placed just out of reach. I have experienced moments in which I am free from trying to fit my round peg into a square hole, where who I am, as I am, is enough. I am riding toward the possibility of a life in which this voice is the one that dominates. I am not doing this to try and prove to myself that this big ride will make me enough. I’m doing this to continue an experience in which the need to feel enough just disappears.
2. Because for the first time in my life last Summer while riding the Continental Divide, I felt like I was okay, just as I was. It was a wonderful to sense the ease and calm following a release of such great tension I’d always lived with, but without having known that pressure was there much less that it could be removed. I am curious to know if I continue on this road, and commit my life to it, will it continue to blossom, or was it a fleeting moment?
3. Because I love wilderness. Because I love being on a bike. Because I love spending entire days moving my body fiercely, feeling the limits of my capacities. So why not spend as much time as I can, while I can, engaging in these things which I love so much, to see what lessons I learn from living out of this passion? I also love people, conversation, and connection. It will be my challenge and aspiration to find deep connection with those I meet on the road. I know it’s possible because I’ve already experienced it.
So I remind myself of these beliefs. As the ferry continues North toward my ultimate outset on the edge of the Arctic Ocean, I keep a gentle focus on my hope for freedom, joy and learning. I hope to invite the possibility of growth within every path pedaled and with every spoken word.