Two words, three concepts.
Let me explain:
Moving. As the name implies, this is not sitting still. Sometimes this is
hard, and sometimes it comes easy. Sometimes the choice is made for you, by
circumstance of life.
Right now, this is my situation; In five days I will be moving
out of my house and into my vehicle – a 2005 Dodge Sprinter van named Big Tina –
and for the last nine months I have been pouring my heart and soul into her
construction. From framing to flooring, plumbing to electrical planning, weighing
decisions to endlessly researching, it has been a work of blood, sweat, and literal
tears. The project has taken on a life of its own, the deadline constantly being
pushed back to give me more time for finishing touches, but like all good things, it
must eventually end. On December 9th , whether I am ready or not, I will be
moving out of a typical house life I have grown accustomed to in the last 26 years
of life, to one of literal moving along the open roads. I can’t begin to explain how
nervous I am, but I believe deeply that good things come when one follows their
heart, that when one throws their all into the dark abyss they will be surprised to
discover a bed of feathers in its place all along.
Meditation. I struggle to discuss this, out of the three topics, the most.
Why? Because from a formal standpoint, I have the least experience with it. I
have never been one to sit down and spend an hour out of my day quietly in a
room with my eyes closed, observing my thoughts drift in and out of my
consciousness allowing my focus to stay laser focused on, well, nothing.
Meditation’s benefits are well documented and I believe my life would be for the
better if I practiced it, but it just isn’t something I do. Despite my experience in the
subject, but with a desire to improve – and a little bit of time arranged for it – I
have signed up for my first ever ten day silent Vipassana meditation course. For
those who aren’t familiar, it is ten days to deliberately commit to entering and
tasting what the meditation world has to offer, a course guided by masters who
offer the introduction at various centers around the world. Just as with the van,
my nerves are shaking with anticipation at the thought of committing to such a project.
I look forward to the mental clarity, equanimity, and challenge the course
will provide me – something I hope to be able to add to my pool of bankable
confidence I can withdraw from over the next ten months of hiking the GWL – and
the inevitable challenges that will come.
Finally, a mixing of the two: moving and mediation. The amalgamation of
two seemingly different activities. In my life, this joining takes the form of long
distance hiking. On some level, it is only form the tedium of walking every day,
from sun up to sun down, for months at a time that makes the crucible of self
reflection all but inevitable. Add in the life-changing wildlife encounter here, the
soul-satisfying brilliance of public lands there, and what your left with is a very
different person at the end of a hike from the one who started. Like a rock
tumbling down a river, slowly breaking down with each successive tumble, the
stone I was after my first thru-hike was nothing like the stone that began at
the Mexican border five months prior. The Great Western Loop will be no
different, and more than anything I am excited to see my growth as a human
-being and reflect on the progress made towards self advancement.
The last thing I want to leave on is a passage from Jeff “Legend” Garmire,
“A gentle tingle worked its way through my body and out my fingers; the
feeling resonated as if my soul was finally at peace. At this moment I felt raw and
natural. All previous issues with depression, self-doubt and purpose were
forgotten. I was in the wild and seeing the world as it was meant to be seen. I
have never experienced this enchanting feeling anywhere but within nature,
whether I am surrounded by friends or out on my own. This is the reason I hike.”
Alex Chmiel – Crikey