Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Unexpected Way That It All Unfolds

The past five days or so have been an emotional roller coaster that led to some enlightening places. And enlightenment is what I need, because all of the physical actions that are taking me to the life I want to live are accompanied by, or often preceded by, emotion. Along this particular roller coaster, I had moments of extreme clarity and moments of despair. While I felt pretty terrible at the lows, I learned and gained a great deal of clarity throughout. I remembered that my emotions help me, which I only learned fairly recently after the end of a romantic relationship 3 and some years ago. Because of the work I did then, prompted and helped by many others, I knew that my emotions should not be repressed but allowed to flow in and through me.

So it all began five days ago, with a seemingly straightforward trip to Snowshoe Mountain for some snowboarding in West Virginia with my good friend Mark. Despite the commercial and destructive aspects of my current practice of snowboarding, I love to get out once or so a year to dance across the snow and get a good workout in! Those aspects were great fun, and I was feeling good. I did not plan for what would come from seeing people and places associated with a past romantic partner.

I felt it in my throat and in my abdomen. Memories of the budding relationship and how great it was when I felt resonance with her cascaded through me. While I was thoroughly enjoying the snowboarding and the time spent with Mark, the underlying feelings lurked just beneath the surface, popping here and there. Shadows of the past relationship were all around.

After a day spent gliding through the mashed-potatoey snow, we headed through the countryside to the city of Elkins. Mark and I ate some Holiday Inn Express cookies and took a walk through the city, having some great conversation about the importance of relocalizing economies, but the unlikeliness of that willingly happening on a large scale. When we got back to the hotel, I grabbed some more cookies, hopped in the shower, and it dawned on me that what was going on inside of me was a grieving process that was hitting me particularly hard now, 6 months after the break up. With clarity, it felt right to say goodbye to Snowshoe Mountain the next day, not because I couldn’t face it, but because it was simply time to say goodbye to something that symbolized a lost relationship.

On Snowshoe Mountain

After a hearty, predictable, complimentary breakfast, we hit the road in the rain back up to Snowshoe. We talked and laughed. All the mountain lifts were closing due to wind, and the rain always threatened, periodically coming down. We did what we could, facing closed trails and melted snow at every turn. With global average temperatures warming year by year, this could be the future for the mighty mountain. We decided to head back to the car after a couple of hours, and did so just in the nick of time. Sheets of rain came down, blowing sideways. As Mark hurried ahead out of the rain, I lingered back, saying goodbye to the mountain, out loud. I thanked the mountain, said goodbye to those good times that will now just be memories, with yearning removed. I stared at my favorite slope, closed due to the wind and rain, vaguely wishing that I could have gotten one more run in, but feeling content at the same time.

Back in the Prius, we headed back home through West Virginia, passing dilapidated barns and creatively built homes with trailers as their core. The feelings of the past two days flared again, and I swelled with doubt. What am I doing with my future? Am I being foolish by leaving behind the comfortable and the (at least temporarily) stable? Would I be the one in the future who city slickers see, living in one of these less-than-shiny homes, and think, "what did he do to land himself here? Where did he go wrong?" Those questions came from my own arrogance. Though I can intellectually come to grips with living in nothing more than a shed, years of conditioning that I should live in something big and shiny, maybe with vinyl siding, continued to influence me. But then, I fought back with knowing that, should I end up living in some tiny, humble structure, I would simply feel that it is where I live, and it would become normal. Home would keep me warm and protect me from the elements. I replayed how different my life is now than it was two years ago; how I am currently doing things that were unthinkable then (like hunting or picking up and eating hit-by-car deer).

There was much more in between that drive home and now that have brought me to my current clarity and calm. Talking with close friends, taking moments to meditate and just drift, writing pages that are intelligible probably only to me, and maybe not even to me if I look back in a few weeks. I watched some inspirational videos, and a film clip of a sea bird dying from eating too much ocean plastic - the bird's stomach was quite literally full of plastic. I also participated in a meeting where people were talking about fighting against lunacy with passion, in a world where many are jaded, asleep, or just don’t care. Somehow, all of this and more brought me here, feeling more resolute and convinced that I’m moving in the right direction, toward a more wild life. I’m remembering that my emotions are there and have something to say, celebrating them and being grateful for what they teach me. I’m reveling in the tortuosity of life, in the unexpected way that it all unfolds.