Being Here, Not There

This morning, I woke up and the first thing I thought was, “We’re starting our Spring Cleanse today.” This is a two-week process where we clean up our eating habits in order for the internal organs to get a break from the hard work of digestion. It’s also a reset when we examine the foods we’re eating and think about whether we want to make changes after the cleanse is complete. 

Sometimes, there is weight loss and I’ve always experienced a noticeable improvement in clarity and happiness. Yes, there’s some food deprivation, but it’s not so bad after the first few days.

Still, as I took my walk to the showers, I realized that I was afraid. It wasn’t just the cleanse. There were some other things floating around inside of my body and mind.

First, we’re at a new campsite in Hartford, Tennessee. It’s clean and pleasant, but it’s very nearly empty. As readers of this blog know, I spend a lot of time engaging in dialogue with my fellow RVers and the staff. I love listening and asking questions of people who have grown up in a wholly different culture. It’s not the main reason we took to the road, but it’s one of my daily pleasures.

Second, Beth is starting a 3-day advanced Reiki seminar. She’ll be busy nine hours per day which means my traveling buddy isn’t going to be available 24/7. I love hanging out with Beth!

Given the small number of people here and Beth’s class, I’m afraid of loneliness. I’m unaccustomed to alone time, so I have some fear bubbling up around that.

Third, what am I supposed to do with myself? I could write, work, meditate, hike or read. I could play music, of course. Or should I be making an effort to figure out what my next career is going to be? As I write these things down I’m returned to the feelings I had while moving toward the showers. Boo scary.

Beth and I have a plan. Every morning that we’re in the Smoky Mountains, we’re going for a hike. Today’s hike was planned between showering and Reiki, so off we went into the park for a couple of hours of outdoor time. Cool.

After wrestling with myself up the path, I decided to tell Beth that I was scared. Patiently, she listened as I described my inner landscape and what was worrying me. As I hoped she would, Beth gave me the space to describe my feelings in a safe environment.

And so, I realized I needed three things: to be heard, to practice gratitude and to pay attention to the now instead of the future.

Beth and I took turns saying how grateful we were for this or that. Here’s some examples:

I’m grateful for these strong legs and lungs to hike up this mountain.
I’m grateful for these wonderful boots that keep my feet dry and comfortable.
I’m grateful for you. You’re such a great traveling partner.
I’m grateful for you, too. I wouldn’t want to do this without you.
I’m grateful for our children.
I’m grateful for the people who are supporting us on this trip.

And so on until we both felt that we were present to ourselves, one another and this Adventure.

Following the gratitude work, I moved into a walking meditation. This caused me to slow down, to feel each rise of the leg and the footfall that came after it, to feel the stones on each part of my foot. As I turned my attention to the small stuff, I could see the water dripping down a rock face, notice a scurrying squirrel or hear the sound of rushing water in the distance.

Walking in the woods, one can fall into a trap that I call “Summit Fever.” This is when we make the trip all about getting to the top. It’s the surest way to miss the small details like the patterns of the roots on the trail, the purple flowers growing next to it or the feel of the cool breeze on one’s skin.

The truth is that we move THROUGH fear by describing it and allowing it. Then, we move out of it because it’s not about now. It’s about later.

Every moment can be a goal on a hike, if we let it. Summit Fever (or getting back to the car) narrows it down to one goal and there’s so much more that we can find in nature and in ourselves.

And the Cleanse and my career and what should I do today? Beth helped me with that, too. She said, “May I make an offering? How about you just make this a retreat for yourself. Allow it to be simple and restful.”

That’s exactly what I needed in that specific moment. I am so grateful for her!

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