Tuesday, August 28, 2012
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy. "It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego." He continued, "The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too." The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?" The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed." Which one is going hungry?
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
We had a lot to talk about. I knew that... kind of ... but as I headed up a little known path after a prayer and a peach in my favorite sanctuary... my heart broke. The soft detritus ground beneath my nearly bare feet, that spongy bounce. The drizzle and damp leaves glistening the woods. The quiet babble of a brook I've shared so many secrets with. Brought my hard walls crashing down - and with more transparency and honesty than I understood, my mouth said - I'm sorry, I've always loved you, and never meant to leave you, I just don't know how to be in each others lives right now. After a long rainy walk, and a very long conversation I knew who I was talking to - but it felt so interlaced with a place I know backwards and forwards, the love of my life. And it got me thinking... about earthly and... not so earthly loves. Or love in general. We used to read campers "The Giving Tree". What a fantastic story. From the time I was a 2nd grade camper, to my last year on staff... that bittersweet selfless love story moves my heart. I replayed all the stages between the tree and the boy, and how and when to help in each, and when you really really think about it - the type of love that took everything from the tree, was always what the boy needed. I wish my heart could give like that. It will never cease to amaze me what life's twists and turns do to love. And I think about my savior, who taught me to love, and that tree. What beautiful examples. This weekend I roamed the wilds of North Carolina's tallest mountains. Balsam Firs trigger my heart stings, and I walk, and sort. Tonight, I broke, and I'm not really sure where my heart is... in this earth... only that it's tearful hopeful pieces are in the hands of a savior who knows what to do with them. And one thing keeps quietly repeating inside me - just breathe. Be it blurry - I look forward. Eyes open at the sunset, eager for a fresh day tomorrow.
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Life is a wild ride of elation and tears. Maybe I ask for it to be, in a sense. Regardless of whether it's sought on not - last week ran the gamut of emotional range. Everything happens and changes - so fast sometimes. Or not quick enough. Which leaves me thankful... God's timing is perfect. Because history has proven - my idea of perfect timing is pretty screwed up. Anyway- the point is, I've been needing nature. So I bust my butt at the coffee shop, and gear shop... run to 24 hours of reboot in the Grayson Highlands... bust it again for a couple days... and flow into one of the most beautiful river trips of the summer. Meanwhile, life is happening. I'm leaving the full time job I've had for the past year, returning to an old love of a job - and still very much sorting through where to live and for how long. This crazy beautiful thing happened the past few days. I started slip sliding down into a sad, dark, lonely place... reevaluating relationship, etc. And with steadfast quiet strength so much love came out of the woodwork. A long Fincastle walk with Dacia and Maya. A slumber party with Hillary. A starry eyed porch-sitting dawn with Bones. Scheming adventures with Elaine. A day recap with Sarah. And I'm starting to realize... maybe these days, and these years aren't so much spinning my wheels or restarting... maybe they're just a long eddy out to read what comes next. Maybe I'm not in the place right now to dig in and paddle hard into unknown rapids. Perhaps with the years and scars I've learned - when to plunge in, and when to scout it out. Crossing eddy lines, staying in the calm, and deliberate finessed strokes when the time is right... now that is something to be proud of.
Thursday, August 9, 2012
My knees can't decide if they're in pain, locked in a double back position, or just entirely overused. Either way - I have hiker hobbles like I nearly forgot existed. It's kind of like... I crushed the miles between Glencliff to Gorham, crashed on the northern and and am now trying to climb the stairs of The Barn hostel... if things aren't looser by tomorrow I may have to sit and scooch around on stairs. Yeip. All that to say - I just spent 24 face melt, heart grappling hours in the Grayson Highlands. Geronimo is sacked out in bed too. I just kept thinking - over and over - "Virginia, you never get old" to which I had to shake because... well... The Old Dominion is... O L D. But seriously - seas of blue ridges unfurling as far as the eye can see, wildflowers, windswept evergreens and lush mossy primeval summits, how could you get enough? Ironic... my ten year high school reunion is quickly approaching. And I find myself replaying so many moments down in Southwestern Virginia. The rock climbing trips with E&H outdoor club, the photo excursion with that guy who... maybe thought it was a date? I found this nook of the state needing to be near the AT, wanting to be near my love. And ten years later - after a through hike of the entire Appalachian Trail Geronimo is my sole steadfast hiking partner, and my once love is engaged to a beautiful dental hygienist, living in Calgary Alberta. C'est la vie. So my mind wanders to other Highland times- Carrie running across Whitetop Mountain. Luke sorting out our map. And Hasty, with the blueberries on Pine Mountain. So rich. Dappled with joy and bittersweet heartstrings much like the Highlands themselves. Yet somehow - in the elation and trials I am so enamored and thankful for this landscape. To have a wild space to perch on a rock, overlooking Virginia, North Carolina, (Tennessee?) wind blowing my hair into it's best pony mane imitation. Birds. Sunrise pink clouds. It's a little disturbing... the happy familiarity a long distance hiker has with the stench of sweaty synthetic clothes. Three hours in I am overwhelmed by all the scents of my old world - saturated dirt, cool rocks, evergreens, stinky hiker. "Wish I could bottle that," before I reconsidered.... would I REALLY burn it as a candle... yeah. I probably would. Unfortunately dreams have their waking, and busting my butt to churn out miles and get to work on time overtook my body. The hiking was quick, but not unpained. I am not too proud to admit I fell... (only once though!) And despite heavy reliance on my poles and arms... my knees are currently on strike. So tonight I lay me down to sleep. Visions of Grayson swirling 'round my head. I hope that baby mohawked pony makes an appearance in my dreams. I hope one day - you can be lucky enough, to know exactly where I'm at, riiiight now. God Bless the Grayson Highlands.
Sunday, August 5, 2012
A silvery mist descends on rolling hills. Enveloped by steady drizzle, clouds, and dusk - there is little to do besides light a candle, listen to strings, and dream. So many of these days spent on the other side of glass- by profession or pleasure, draws a strange stirring in my heart for life in the woods. Humidity of climate, rain drops on my lips, the warmth of wool and down. We used to do this evening meeting with campers, going around in a circle sharing an answer to one question before bed. My favorite was "if you were any type of weather, what would you be?". As the light drains from the Blue Ridge, and layers of landscape deepen in matted finish, I can tell you, tonight, I would be this.
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Obama recently told a city street full of my hometown that if you were successful - you didn't make it to where you are today by yourself. I've seen / heard more than I would like to about campaigning and who's delivering the most deceiving campaign platform this presidential go-round. Four years ago, when all of this was happening, I was traversing the New England woods. And as Obama's votes came in, and cracked walnuts sat on the stoop of an Emory & Henry porch, we rejoiced in hope, and change, and the bright sunrise of a new season. Tonight Geronimo and I are in a cozy bedroom as crickets buzz and thunder rumbles through damp Appalachian night. We breathe deep, and Iron and Wine starts picking and pulsing. When I was in Maine I felt so far from this place. Preparing for the southern leg of my Appalachian Trail traverse, I anticipated lonely days and quiet woods. Insert - a little help from my friends. I ordered a cheap, light, sansa MP3 player, had it shipped to one of my very best friends - Carrie - and asked her to load it full of music and forward it south. The responsibility of DJ ing some of my toughest times on the AT was no small task - which Carrie took to heart greatly. (Carrie is remarkably / unhumanly thoughtful) So as the sun shone in Georgia, Ben Lee sang me forward. When I was sick and internally wrestling the future of my traverse, Damien Rice plucked my heart strings beside the Nantahala River. And as the cold,late-fall winds swept far southwestern Virginia, Iron & Wine whispered through bare branches and snowflakes. So it's August, four years later, and Southern Anthem soothes a tired mind. The thunder is a distant quiet one. And I think of Carrie, and the kind of love and thoughtfulness that binds a fellowship together. A love to make warm on cold windy walks, and shed light in blurry dark moments. "When that southern anthem rings It will lay her burdens down" The opportunity to be truly known and loved by another creature feels rare and raw most times. I am extremely blessed to have a handful for such long-term, deeply intimate fellowships. Jeremiah Johnson texts me begging for a hitch from an Oregon roadside near the PCT, and Michelle teases me about birthing babies from her nursing program in Washington, and Hillary vents from a lake cabin in northwest Montana, and Sarah counsels from her new home in California, and I think about my favorite Batman, Spencer. And Geronimo snores. My eyes are heavy, and I am not alone. So we sleep to another night of destination unknown, wilderness road - not walked alone. With bright eyes and sunshine towards the hope and change of a season to come. Oh thank God for that thunder, these guitars, and fellowship to dance in darkness. Lord knows I can't get anywhere by myself, nor would I want to.