“It is always there, of course, when you come back from the green world. You
have been living by sunrise and sunset, by wind and rain, surrounded by the
ebb and flow of lives that respond only to such simple, rhythmic elements.
But now the tone and tempo of the days switch. Instead of harmony, jangle.”
–Colin Fletcher, WINDS OF MARA
It’s been almost two months since we finished the trail. The first two weeks were spent in Seattle with family. Delicious food was consumed. We toured the city, visiting museums and markets and let our bodies take a break, and allowed our minds to focus on taking in that large metropolis. We visited Boston, that old city with 150 year-old cemetery’s next to grocery stores, and cobblestone lined streets. We visited Montana, and took a walk in the Rockies. We went for short walks in local parks, and started running. I picked up a pair of Vibram’s and am now running about 3-4 miles a day, a couple of days a week.
We spent time in Eugene with family, ate lot’s of food, and enjoyed the simple pleasure that good company affords. We went mushrooming in the woods, and learned to identify just a few mushrooms. When Occupy Eugene had a rally, we marched along with others, and listened to the many voices coalesce into one, reflecting the anger and frustration many feel with the current state of affairs. Instead of feeling like a member of that collective, however, I was struck by how dissociated I was. From a separate observation point, it was as if I was watching a movie, in which my body was a character, and I was a spectator. We’ve been “traveling” our way through this transition.
We’re back east of the San Francisco Bay, right where we left all of our earthly belongings (which isn’t much) before starting on the trail. And we’re back in suspension. Waiting. Searching. Making sense of this place we are at. Trying to find work.
When reflecting on the trail, it’s as if the memories were snapshots of my favorite play, movie, or book, and I remember the details as if they were not my own. It’s a strange sensation. As if 5+ months may or may not have happened. Try as I might, I can’t seem to construct a proper place for the experience. My attempts at putting it in a place is because I simply don’t know how to explain it. I am detached, lost, out of rhythm.
Others have put into words, in much more articulate manner than I am able, the sensation that happens after weeks of being in the wilderness, when one’s mental faculties merge, harmoniously, with the world around them. When that physical space between your body and the outer world dissipates. Long-distance runners call it the runners high. When the body no longer ceases to be it’s own entity, but an extension of the larger world around it. The feet and the ground become one, the body, air, and sky all one. I don’t feel that here, after. And I want to carry it. I want to bottle it up in some place inside me that I can go to whenever I feel that dissociation with the place I find myself in.
Since finishing, friends and family have had many questions. Questions dealing with daily life on the trail, but other more concrete, practical questions, i.e. did we figure anything out? Have we found work? Do we know where we want to live? Do we know what we want to do with our lives?
Big questions, with unknown answers. So I concentrate on the smaller, tangible things to focus on. The taste of an apple in fall, the feel of a small child’s hand in my own, the face of the wind when I run, the radiant sun falling behind the grassy hill, the gaze of a bobcat as I travel by on bike, and the embrace of my best friend as we both transition.