2013, I do believe, shall perhaps be written about and remembered as my most momentous year yet. In fact, it certainly will be, and not just because of circumstance, chance, and a failed marriage. I have taken it upon myself to make some amount of momentousness self-created, rather than imposed, and as such am taking on one of my Seven Wanders of My World: biking the Mississippi River Trail. Most importantly, I’m doing it solo.
It is my deepest intention to make this a whole person trip, to take note of my therapist’s suggested meditation and notice body, mind, emotion, and core self, without judgement. In preparation I am planning and packing, preserving food (for the trip and for the winter, for I will miss the peak canning season while I’m on the road this autumn), tying up loose ends at my blessedly flexible job, and trying to let go. Releasing expectation is both paramount and persistently difficult.
Despite the demands of a regiment of camping and 60 miles of bicycling a day, the body is easiest to care and prepare for. New lightweight long underwear. Camping cookware, including the indulgence of a solo french press coffee pot. Home dehydrated vegetables. Keens. There will be moments and hours and even days of exhaustion, strained muscles, a sore back. But also skin rich from Vitamin D. More strength and tenacity that I’ve known before. And daily morning yoga to keep me moving.
The mind is trickier, as I have learned that my constant analysis of self and surroundings pervades my other spheres of being. Choosing books to accompany me is critical and impossible. Good Poems for Hard Times is a certainty. Novels and spiritual nonfiction are more difficult to choose from. Knowing I will have to leave finished books behind is tantamount to abandoning a pet, even if I have never read the book before. My tarot cards and book will join me as well, another indulgence of sorts, at least as far as weight is concerned, but what is the weight of a book to the body when its content can spark the mind to discovery?
Attending to emotion is more complex still. There is much excitement of course, but equally as much, if not more, worry. Not so much for myself, or even for the trip itself, because in spite of my mother’s rampant concerns for my safety, I believe that the universe provides, through my intuition and more compassionate strangers than potentially harmful ones. No, my worry is for what I am leaving behind. My still new relationship with Sarah, growing in depth and loveliness yet strained by my attempted internal re-alignment after the divorce. The chickens. The garden. My housemates. My family. In my current life I am so very external, leaving little room for self care, a pattern that I dearly hope this adventure will shake up and recreate. So with mint tea dried from the yard, my journal, a box of crayons, and plans for letters and collages and exchanges with friends found on the road, I make space for my emotional self to grow and expand while I explore the Mississippi.
The last, but of course most essential, layer that is my core self I do not yet know how to best attend to. She is there. She is being rediscovered, reshaped, unearthed as nutrients in tilled soil. But I cannot yet place her, in my being or in the world. In time. Beginning September 5th.