July 31 2015
Four Corner Park
We’re sitting here in the shade, baby playing, dog walking, sipping cool drinks, but the imagined peace is shattered every time the traffic light changes, the sounds of chugs and glugs ease into monotonous roaring gears shifting and the world speeds up, turns up and sends the dog away winpering. The park is transverse by two roads, their intersection is the center of town. I can’t stand at the center of town and no more can we relax in this bisected park. And I am struck by the memories of parks in Paris, Barcelona, struck by how they all the roads go around the parks, keeping the heart of town filled and not run through. Americans have no place to go, to sit in the shade and enjoy the sounds of one another breathing.
It is a blazing hot day, the peak heat of the afternoon is here and I am hiding behind these concrete pillars, moving along in its shadow as the sun drifts. My bus is hours late and my backpack is baking in the westward sun. I’m waiting, listening to traffic sounds. The sidewalk is melting, little bits of tar are stuck to my shoes as I shuffle along. I’ve really got nowhere to be, so late is ok I guess.
Then I am struck again. I wish there were a train. I wish America had trains and parks and all those places that bring strangers together.
For a land united, we sure don’t talk to each other. Or get out of the car, television, our phones, houses. We’re so uncomfortable when we have to face people that we worry, we fret, we overthink, we cultivate fear. All we need to do is let go of judgement and the fear of fear that is cultivated by our anti-social lifestyles. So much has happened over the past few days. I’ve struggled and struggled to sit still. Today I will sit still. I am hopping a bus from Zelienople, PA back to Bennington, Vt. Towns are so much hotter than the forest.
Albany, New York
I’m parked like homeless person outside of this travel agency waiting for a bus that feels like it will never come. Part of me believes that there is no bus. And when it does come…it will only be a mirage of what I want.
The ladies in the travel agency are dressed to match the furniture.
White wicker beach chairs and posters of islands plaster the walls like a gaudy wallpaper. It smells like soap and my grandmother. Blue and white, that brilliant white suggests a choice, prime, clean vacation could be arranged here.
This bus is going to be another hour late. I will be sitting here after the travel agency closes. Their white shoes walking by me, clip clopping to a white car to go home to a house with blue curtains. A box full of dreams.
Escape is carved into a wooden sculpture in the window. It’s covered in fake butterflies and dust. Why is it so hard to get away?
Costa Rica, Germany, Norway, Japan, Asia, Africa, Hawaii, Hawaii, Hawaii, all yours, maybe, possibly you will be two hours late for a terrible bus ride to the ghetto of Albany New York and miss your connection back to the mountains.
And then I’m wondering about him. I’m wondering where he is and if I will ever see him again. Not a missed connection, but a lost connection that I refuse to let go of. It sits on the edges of my thoughts and makes me wonder all the time.
Believing in him is kind of like jumping out of that airplane. Never has faith been so worldly. I can’t my breath, not even for a moment. I’ve never been so sure in my entire life, but part of me wonders if my certainty should be left on trail all with all the situations of trail.
Where is my bus???
So a real bus showed up two and a half hours late, and I am on my way.
Bus stop in New York
I am going back.
My breakdown on the way here (while driving away from trail I had a moment at a rest stop) is balanced by the complete abolition of fear. This is the ultimate freedom. I am free from myself. I am no longer worried about what is going to happen and I no longer desire anything to happen. I am free. I am free of desire and expectation. I am not afraid of what will be.
We live our lives in such a lifestyle that makes the world appear a certain way. Every action, every thought, every sensation (and lack thereof) creates a perspective. This physical perspective creates beliefs. Spirituality is completely rooted in the world, not beneath, within or beyond it.
Possibility is limited to what we experience—what we think about each day.
I see the world as a hiker. I see the world, feel the world, through hiking. My perceptions have changed. I can smell smells I never have and I see details, am so wrapped up in details that most of modern culture has become over-stimulating and abrasive. I feel the world under my feet- I move, it moves, we move each other.
Every day I wonder:
Where am I ?
I am here, and I am moving.
Thinking of walking as we ride along:
When I first got off trail I was crying. I was hurt and the entire world seemed to be tumbling down. I look to the mountains and I imagine the trail moving along the top. I imagine the smell of the woods, the climbing, the sweat, sunrise and sunset; I watch it all breeze by , imagining experiences that don’t exist at this current moment.
As I go back North, I see us all walking along fences in the farm fields. I know what it means to walk there. My eyes are open. I am so excited for whatever happens next, no matter what that might be, but I sure hope there is more hiking.
I see a road as we pass and I think of what it is like to walk across it from forest to forest. Roads are so much shorter if you cross them like a deer, running through the human desolation.
Greyhound station Albany, New York
Mint green concrete blocks, a wall holding out the city. The concrete jungle never looked so dirty. Everyone is sick here, throats full of phlegm, keeping out the words and laughter. A stagnant source of life struggling against all odds to be well, to live with hope, with happiness.
The grim of the city is a gritty poison that collects like soot on an open window ledge. I love the breeze, but it clogs up my lungs. It smells so badly here.
Everyone rolling around, screaming in disgust at the atrocities we inflict on one another, never realizing that the root of this might be a deprivation from the elements which create life. I always thought the trouble was exploitation. We exploit the earth. We exploit one another. But maybe it is something more like: Because we exploit the earth we set a model for how to treat one another. We pave over plants causing cool places to become much hotter, flatten mountains and destroy the natural ecosystems which could save us from our tyrannical rationality.
We have removed ourselves from natural struggles and largely from our dependence on nature. This liberation has enslaved us to a dirty culture, a corrupt government. We are civilized; every day we invent new ways to maim, torture and kill…new technology to save a failing, polluted world. Towering concrete walls and traffic flying overhead on concrete pillars, the height of modern society…no pedestrians. I walk the sidewalks with people too “low” and “irresponsible” to have driver’s licenses.
Someone gave me a bus pass to see the city, but I decided to limp along and eat lunch in front of the New York State Capital building. Impressive.
Dealing with pain: Everything will be Ok
I see legs that work, and I feel envy. I’ve done so much that not everyone can do, yet I see healthy legs, working legs and I wish for it. I wish I could just walk without pain, hike without pain. Even though I have pressed through the uncertainty, I have not been able to overcome myself. Do I keep pushing? Do I try or rest or I don’t know. I am at a loss and feeling pretty lost. It is difficult to foster self-love or confidence in the face of inability. How do I keep going? How will I get better?
As usual my answer is just keep hiking and everything will be ok. I want to believe, but I am overwhelmed with uncertainty. This next week I am taking medicine and when I run out I will decide if I will stop or continue. The only way to overcome doubt is to try.
So I will try.
How do we push through pain when enough is enough? I can feel whatever this is fighting back, giving me hell while I sit here. I am fighting with this injured body— this injured spirit. Maybe this is my mistake. I am holding myself together, trying so hard to fix this, please let this work. I need this to be Ok. I refuse to give up. I think my stubbornness might be a bad thing in this situation. It might end my trip , and I might permanently injure my leg.
Back on Trail, 5pm
I walked one mile today. I walked tree to tree stretching my leg. Every twenty feet I took a break. I threw out my tent and my pack weighs 18lbs with food. I will get a new tent in Rutland. Between here and there I will be shelter hopping and walking no more than ten miles each day.