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.

In Search Of…: A Finish Line

I’m in Tennessee right now. A far cry from Lubbock, Texas, on Saturday. But, not much has changed.

To recap, I spent most of Saturday in Lubbock, which was a surprisingly enjoyable time. Lubbock has that perfect “college town” feel to it, with enough amenities to make it worth exploring.

After Lubbock, I spent Sunday in Austin, which was a bit disappointing. Austin is clearly one of those cities that has outgrown its size, and the city is trying to play catch up. There were so many people everywhere. I get that it was a weekend day, but even moving in some parts of the city was difficult.

I spent that night in a small town in Oklahoma, driving through Dallas in the process. Dallas was huge and predictably chaotic given that the Sunday Night Football game was being played in Arlington.

Yesterday morning, I drove to Eureka Springs, Arkansas, and got to enjoy that tiny little mountain town a bit before heading here to Memphis.

Again, not much has changed in that space of time. I’ve seen and done a bit, but nothing, I feel, of note in terms of this trip. But as I’ve been slowly approaching home, I’m starting to spend more time ruminating and planning. I’m nowhere near an answer or solution yet. I want to completely remove myself from the road, have a proper shower, and reflect on the trip as a whole.

And there are some key things that I’ve learned as well. Some things were reinforcements of previous beliefs, others were new. But I’ll spend some time as well thinking about how I want those things to reflect themselves in my life going forward.

I want to see my family and friends again and in general, just experience a life where I’m not living out of my car. Bold, I know.

I may not know exactly what’s going to happen over the next couple of months yet. But I can’t wait to start figuring it out. And to everyone who has followed along, texted or messaged me, and generally been happy for me, thank you. It helped me get through the rough patches and reminded me of how lucky and privileged I am to have been able to do this.

In Search Of…: Sedona

Yes, Sedona gets its own post. Honestly, I may have to do a second post of just pictures.

Sedona was a place that I wasn’t really conscious of while I was planning this trip, which is ironic because Prescott was on the list early. But as I started to be more vocal about my journey, the place that was recommended to me most, even more than Lake Tahoe, was Sedona.

Driving in seemed very similar to the landscape of the rest of Arizona. It wasn’t particularly unique. But, coming from the north, there’s a bend around a large collection of the notable red rocks, and Sedona opens up like Narnia. Verde Valley is like this secluded, hidden paradise of incredible. It’s, in my opinion, the most beautiful place I’ve ever been to.

The main thing I was here for was the vortexes. If you haven’t heard of them, there are four significant points in Sedona where the energy fields are elevated, and they are considered to be places of spiritual healing and connection. The energy swirls in these places, and it’s reflected in the trees around them.

Sedona Tree

I headed for the Airport Vortex Mesa, very close to Sedona’s airport. The free parking space was closed, so I parked about a half-mile away and hiked. And this ended up being very purposeful.

The hike there wasn’t too bad, but it was almost like we were all conscious of what was to come. Our pilgrimage to the site was quiet, no one speaking much. Very much a pilgrimage in that sense. And once we got to the large rock overlook, it could be felt how reverent the place was.

It was, by far, the most unique outdoor experience I’ve ever had. I’ve had moments where I really FELT a place that I was in. That part wasn’t surprising. But there were lots of people at the top, but there was almost no sound. People were meditating, lying down, or just absorbing it. But no one was talking. A church is the only place I can recall ever being that was held in that kind of regard. I think that’s the best way to describe it.

Sedona Summit

Once back in the car, I knew I wanted to go to at least one more. Two of the remaining vortexes, Cathedral Rock and Bell Rock, were very close to each other, so I went to Cathedral Rock, with the intention of seeing Bell Rock after. And for the best reason, I didn’t make it to Bell Rock.

I had to park about a quarter-mile up the road from the trailhead due to the parking lot being full. It’s such an interesting location because surrounding this huge, impressive natural area is a lot of expensive houses. It makes sense why people would want to live nearby, but interesting nonetheless.

I read ahead of time that the trail to the summit was relatively short, 3/4 of a mile. But it gains 650 feet in elevation, which is kind of crazy. And it really shows how much a difference in elevation makes. At the Grand Canyon, I could barely climb a few hundred feet without stopping multiple times. Sedona is about 2,500 feet lower, and I had a lot easier time climbing this trail, even with the crazy gain.

Sedona Selfie

The entry was amazing and not terribly difficult. But around a third of the way up, there was a ridiculous rock formation. It was honestly more of a wall. There was a narrow strip that was for your feet, and you were kind of on your own. A couple I met on the way up and myself were assured that once you got past it, it was easy from then on. I never saw the couple again, so I’m left to assume they didn’t make it up.

After that, it did get easier, but it was by no means easy. There were still a few steep spots, but once I got to the top, the views made everything worth it.

Sedona Cathedral

This was a less intense, spiritual experience than the Airport Mesa, but it was no less stunning. I spent a long time up there soaking in as much as I could. Once I had my fill, I made my way back down, and by the time I got to my car, I was wiped. No Bell Rock Vortex for me this time.

Lastly, I was in search of some gifts and mementos. I found some shops and headed that way, and I finally found the blemish on this oasis. Sedona is very clearly a town that is mid-scaling to become a tourist trap. The localized shopping and restaurants are mostly contained to one section of the town, and it’s overrun.

Considering it was a Tuesday afternoon, traffic was terrible and the construction didn’t help. Parking was a nightmare everywhere and I was a bit flustered. But, I thought I’d try a restaurant and walk from there. No parking to be found. Ok, I’ll just hit the shops. Nada.

Finally, I found a small spiritual shop that looked interesting and sought refuge there. I love crystals and their energy, but I wasn’t really in the market for more. And that was the majority of the offerings here. I strolled through the tarot books and decks, the jewelry and statues, and was about to leave. But something finally caught my eye.

The front, a red ocean wave enso circle. An enso circle, which I have tattooed on my left arm, is, in Japanese culture, a symbol for absolute enlightenment, strength, elegance, the universe, and the void. It stood out to me a year ago and holds a lot of meaning to me.

Book 1

Book 2

Surrounding the circle, and wrapping around to the back, mountains, and waves. Enclosed in the cover, a blank journal. It was one of the most beautiful pieces of art I’ve ever come across, and I loved it. I’m not sure what I’m going to use it for, but it’s one of my favorite things I’ve ever bought for myself. Well worth navigating the tourist flooded streets.

I ended up not being able to get a shirt or stickers or something else that might tell other people that I had been there. I tried, even after the journal, but the place I settled on, labeled as having a gift shop, was empty. I took that as a sign that I had gotten everything I needed from Sedona.

And really, that’s kind of the point of this trip. The experiences and stories I gained can only really be shared amongst friends and family in a retelling. A t-shirt or sticker may open up that opportunity, but until you share the stories, there can’t begin to be a level of understanding.