July 23, 2010

23 feet: The Lost-Belongings Travel Panic – Organizing a Simple Life.

“Wherever you go, there you are.”

There’s a feeling I used to have on the road sometimes, whether I was traveling an hour or ten, alone or with friends. Every time I got out of the car, after every gas station or rest stop, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I left something behind. I would compulsively check and recheck my belongings, haunted by some unaccountable loss.

It’s true that I have the habit of leaving on a whim, failing to mentally prepare or properly collect my things. It’s also true the places I’ve visited could be categorized by the things I lost or broke there. But only on a rare occasion have I actually left something behind in a lonely gas station bathroom, and as far as I know nothing has ever blown out an open window. I think what I was losing wasn’t material, but an expense of energy – the result of a failure to organize my purpose.

We’re now past the halfway mark of our journey, and have spoken with climbers, surfers, mountain bikers. We’ve met people who live out of buses, vans, their cars, a tent. We’ve found that the people who end up living this way for any length of time become incredibly organized, strict in the arrangement of their belongings and energy. It seems that in the face of an unpredictable life, having a safe haven becomes essential.

While we were in Tuolumne Meadows, we were lucky enough to speak with Katie Lambert. Katie has been climbing in Yosemite for five years, and shared some of the lessons she has learned. She says that climbing has taught her to be more aware – and given her the presence of mind to recognize that when she gets herself into something, she will eventually have to see herself out. It seems that a life of adventure and unknowns demands a certain amount of disciplined thought, some wits and trusting your feet.

I’ve found on this trip that the wheel of my life has become wider then it was in my previous lifestyle, the circumference more pronounced, the edges bleeding out into the extreme. My calamity is all hot and sticky confusion, the quiet is sweet and silent peace. And though I am always somewhere new, always a little lost, always on the road, I haven’t felt that familiar nag. I think I’m figuring out where I am.

I love the circular movement of yoga, how, like climbing, the lessons we learn on the mat translate into our lives. We learn about balancing effort with surrender, and so we recognize that struggle in other aspects of living. The consequences and decisions of life on this trip have been big, scary and sometimes impossible. I am mostly terrified but completely calm. This trip has stretched my circle, evened out some lumpy neuroses, given me a different view. And there may always be a part of me that is forever dreaming, a sun-burn on my nose and ice cream on my shorts. But every day I learn, every day I see, and every day I go forward.

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Lisa Montierth  |  Contribution: 500