A Restless Soul

Just over a week removed from a month-long trip across the country and back, and I feel…sluggish. I’m taking my time figuring out the next steps and just enjoying not necessarily having anything to do. I’ve gotten some writing done, tried to catch up on podcasts, and shows that I want to finish, but no real plan. Not in the short term anyway.

My desire to be back on the road is evident. I was driving today and saw one of the nearby cities on the signs overhanging the expressway and nearly kept driving. It’s a tenuous thing, balancing that need for adventure with maintaining a life. I spent so many years refusing to go near the candy store, only to allow myself in and to eat everything in the store. Now, it’s about moderation.

I’ve always had this restless soul. Only in terms of adventure, but it’s been there. And now that it’s been indulged, it inevitably leads to a follow-up question: what’s next? And short-term, I haven’t quite decided yet. I could stay in Louisville for a bit, save some money (and pay off some debt), and then head out on another adventure. It’s arguably my “safe” option. I have other reasons for wanting to stay in Louisville, but do those inspire enough in me to stay the course?

On the other hand, I could head to my preferred destination from my trip: Boise, Idaho. It’s hard to accurately describe Boise, but it was the only place on the trip that felt like a home to me. I can think of other places that might have felt that way if I hadn’t been in a mental rut, or the weather had been better, or other mitigating factors. And even if I did go, I only spent a few days in Boise. It could end up not resonating with me the way I thought, and then it’s on to the next adventure.

Either way, I wanted to make my longer-term goals location-less. Things that I could learn and do and visit that weren’t limited by where I called my home base. Because I could see a scenario where that place changes multiple times over the rest of my life. Which is ironic, because I hate moving, but I digress…

The list I came up with can be divided into two paths: a creative/work path and a physical path. I realized on this trip that I had let my fitness fall to the point that I couldn’t appreciate all that those places had to offer. Creating those goals is a plan to get back to that point.

So, first, the physical list. These are things that others have done before me, and many will do after me, but I believe that’s a tie that binds people rather than making it any less impressive. I want to visit all the National Parks. I hit a handful of them, but there’s so many more to explore, especially in Alaska. I want to complete a 100-mile ultramarathon. As difficult as that would be for my body, I want to push my mind to that point. I want to hike the Pacific Coast, John Muir, Continental Divide, and Appalachian Trails. All of these are varying degrees of length and difficulty, and all hold an important place in my mind. And last, inspired by Mike Posner, who completed it this year, I want to walk across the country, coast to coast. It’s something I thought a lot about driving down the 101 in California.

Now, the creative/work path. This list is arguably less bold, but it’s probably the things that I view more challenging. These, to me, require more intentional work to accomplish and discipline on my part. I’ve started these (kind of), but I want to write a novel and a book of poetry. I want to continue to coach girl’s basketball as well. I really love it, and it combines a lot of my interests into one. I’m not sure what level I’d want to end up at, but it helps me stay connected to a game I love and help develop the next generation of people. The last one is centered around learning. I want to learn how to make things with my hands, be it woodworking, metalworking, ceramics, blowing glass, etc. I love using my hands and am looking for another creative outlet besides writing.

I believe all of these are fundamentally achievable for me, but I’m also not tying myself to them, allowing them to become part of me. We allow so many things to influence our self-worth because we either fail or succeed. My failure or success to do a job or achieve a goal doesn’t change who I am as a person. So, maybe I’ll accomplish all of those things. Perhaps I’ll meet none of them. But for me, it’s about the pursuit.

I have a lot of time to do all of these things. Hell, I have a lot of time just to live.

~

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

 

Ideas for a Better Us

I’ve been ruminating on my trip, thinking about the lessons I took away from it. I gained a lot of new ways of viewing things, but I also recognize I have a long way to go in terms of understanding. There’s no way of knowing everything there is to know on this planet, but the more we grow, learn and understand, the closer we get to AN understanding, and the better off we all are.

In pursuit of that, I know I have to make changes in my life to allow that growth and change to occur. Namely, ridding myself of some of the toxic behaviors and generally neutral actions I have in my life. Things that add nothing to my life or take time away from things that I do deem important.

But what things do I value? That’s what I dove into and uncovered, and I think a lot of them could apply to most people. The ideas and stories aren’t always unique, but sometimes it takes hearing them in the right context to allow them to sink in. I’ve known, on a conscious and subconscious level, a lot of the things I needed to change. But it’s only now that I’m actually attempting to get serious about them. We are all on our own journey, and we’ll get there in our own time.

All that being said, here are the things that I’ve chosen to focus on going forward. I’m going to do everything I can to spend my time on these things, but I know that there will be slipups. Time’s where I drift back to the things that aren’t as valuable. But when you become aware that you’ve taken the wrong path, you backtrack and rejoin the correct route.

Consume Health

I worded this very intentionally. It started with wanting to eat healthily, something I’ve always struggled with. Even when eating a primarily plant-based diet, I ate a lot of junk food. But it goes beyond that. We consume every day with all of our senses. We taste, touch, smell, hear, and see thousands of things every day. How many of them are toxic or don’t provide value? I want to minimize that. I want to eat amazing, healthy food. I want to listen to beautiful music and high-quality podcasts. I want to see and watch stunning plays, art, films, etc.

I know these are grandiose plans I’m laying, but it’s not about being perfect. It’s about the attempt. If everyone just attempted to be better, how much better would we be?

Travel

This is a big one for me. And it doesn’t have to include travel plans across the country or internationally. I do think it includes time out in nature, much more than most of us get. Additionally, instead of your regular routine, go to a different gym, grocery or coffee shop. Experience different things. Even if you only go to one Starbucks, go to a different location. You can get your regular while experiencing something new. And that’s what this is really about: new experiences. Our bubbles don’t just exist online on social media. They include the people we encounter, the places we visit and the businesses we support. If we open up to these new experiences, how much can we learn?

Connect with Good Energy

All of that being said, we should use our intuition to connect with good energy. This is different because sometimes good energy can make us uncomfortable. There are many people I’ve met and become close to that I value for that reason. They push me out of my comfort zones and have allowed me to go further. Experiences I never would have had otherwise were opened up by choosing to be around their good energy. Good energy will look different for everyone, but if you’re listening to yourself when you’re around people and in different or new situations, you’ll know what it feels like.

Physical Effort

A lot of times, people conflate being physical with going to the gym or doing what most people deem as “exercise”. Putting that kind of pressure on it is a good reason why people don’t stick with their New Years’ resolutions or workout plans. I find a plan to be beneficial, as I struggle with less structure. But things like walking, hiking, gardening, chores around the house, etc. are all examples of things we can do to be physical without needing new shoes and gym clothes. And aside from the physical health benefits, exercise helps fight mental health issues as well, so it’s a win-win.

Create

Another misconstrued idea is that we either aren’t creative or don’t possess the “right” creativity. We are all creative. We are all capable of creating. Because whether it’s writing, art, dance, cooking, organizing, photos of the dog, bedtime stories for our kids…the point is, anything we make is an expression of creativity. I intend to tap into that, beyond just writing. I want to learn different types of art, and I think I’d be good at the more physical arts that you use your hands for such as pottery or sculpting. But I won’t know unless I try.

Learn

The final piece is the one that ties everything together. I want to learn. I’ve always been curious and attempted to learn the things that interest me, but I’ve gotten away from that wonder that I had years ago. I got comfortable, but it’s time to go back. Any time I think I’ve figured something out or started to understand something, I learn new information. We live in a grey world where very little is black and white. Understanding that opens us up to an endless supply of learning opportunities. Capitalizing on those leads us to evolution and that’s what I’m most in search of, for everyone.

~

Some of these ideas are things that some people may not be concerned about. As I said before, I do think everyone is on their own path. But I know there’s some crossover and I think these are things that would be beneficial to most. I’ve got some concrete goals that I want to layout later, but I think these general goals are good avenues to start down.

~

Photo by Paul Gilmore on Unsplash

 

In Search Of…: 6 Things I Learned

For those unfamiliar, I spent the last month on the road, living in my car (save one glorious hotel night). It was something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, and I was incredibly lucky to be able to do it. But I’m back now, and there were more than a handful of lessons I took with me.

While I haven’t made any permanent changes quite yet, these lessons will strongly guide my decision-making process in both the immediate and distant future. Some of these were new thoughts, some were things that I had been feeling for a while, but didn’t have the experience to back them up.

Relationships are Everything

How we relate to the people around us is everything. This is top to bottom, everyone from your immediate family to the person you order your food from at a restaurant. We are all on this planet together and our fractured relationships are what will cause us to fall. So, when you love someone, tell them. When you’re upset with someone, tell them so you can work it out. Our lives are simultaneously infinite and short. Why waste any of it with people who don’t respect you or want to have you in their lives? Conversely…

Money is Nothing

This is definitely something I’ve been feeling for a while. We get so caught up working for more, more, more. And I’m not ignorant to basic cost of living. There’s a whole world of issues situated with the fact that there are people that have to work multiple jobs to make ends meet. I’m talking about the excess. We don’t need millions of dollars to live. Depending on where you live and your familial situation, we don’t even need hundreds of thousands of dollars to live.

I have completely detached from money as an important construct. I’m more concerned with how I’m spending my money going forward. Spending a lot of money on this trip, some of which I simply don’t have at the moment taught me that the experiences I gained were worth much more than my bank account.

I Don’t Need a lot of Space…But I Do Need My Own Space

Living in my car was in some ways easier and harder than I anticipated. It was fairly easy to sleep and stay asleep at night, and I never got into a scary situation at night doing so. That being said, having a toilet and shower at close hand is a luxury I hadn’t thought through. I think I could do it for a short amount of time, but having my own (albeit small) space is very necessary.

Slow Down

We spend so much of our time racing to get to meetings, events, and classes. Why? Because we’ve overloaded ourselves. We’ve been led into the trap of thinking we have to sprint to keep up when in reality we are all running a marathon. Marathons require patience, resilience, endurance and a strong will. And it’s not just about that, it’s about slowing down to smell the roses. Be in love with every day and conscious of where you are, where you’ve been, and where you’re going.

We Are All Tiny and Mighty, Unique and Common

There’s nothing to make you feel small like driving across the country and back in a month’s time. Except maybe standing amongst the Redwoods in California. Or standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. We are all so insignificant on our own on this planet. Nothing any of us could do, on our own, could cause any real change. It’s in this way that we are all common.

And yet, when we are together, working toward a single goal, we are mighty. We can do any good or bad thing with millions or billions supporting us. But that is back to my point about relationships. It’s so crucial that we have even one person supporting us. We all have a unique story that needs to be told. No one other person has lived the same life that we have. Our struggles, triumphs, and choices shape our story. Having that backer can start a tidal wave of us living as our true selves.

Every Moment is a Brush Stroke

Painting is also something I spent a lot of time thinking about, in both the literal and figurative sense. It started in Utah, where I imagined the difficulty in expressing the beauty of the landscape through paint. Even photos weren’t doing it justice, how could paint? But through skill and practice, great painters can accurately convey those colors, shapes, and details in their work.

The same can be said about our lives. We are slowly working on a work of art if we choose to see it as such. Each moment, a small brush stroke. Some strokes are perfectly placed, and we won’t attempt to change them, because they are perfect. But some strokes are imperfect. A cramped hand causing an ill-advised pass over the canvas. But that’s the beauty of the painting. Not only can the mistake be revisited and done again, but even if it’s not, forgotten amongst the other perfect brush strokes, we move on.

No painting is perfect. It’s impossible to accomplish with a human hand. And that’s why we have to look at the big picture.

~

We don’t all get opportunities to experience ourselves on the level that I did in this last month. It’s something that I was very intentional about and took very seriously. It’s how seriously I want to make finding new experiences in my life. I’ll be speaking more about those goals and plans in the future, but for now, I hope these lessons can resonate with others.