#LHTFR (Again) Chapter One, part one

“Where you been, my man? You’re covered in glitter.” – A bartender in Indiana

Day one:

Three states. Two time zones. 450 miles, 23 avg mpg.

March 7th

Today is the day I woke up in Indiana, aka Boring Illinois.

Yesterday was a good warm up. I hit the road a bit later than anticipated, but as I keep telling myself “An hour doesn’t matter much over the course of a month. Ah, perspective. Maybe that’s what I’m after.

Before I set out my mother said in a short blessing that she hoped I find what I’m looking for. I’m not trying to find anything out here, though. I didn’t leave in search of something so much as I just wanted to discover what’s out there. So this is me, tumbling headlong into the wild unknown, lead by a curious heart.

“A sailor when to sea sea sea, to see what she could see see see…”  

Not too long ago on one of those early Tuesday morning introspective spirals into my psyche I discovered one of my base motivating drives. A prime directive, like the need for my soul to love, and simple, like the need for my heart to pound. It was this: I just want to see beautiful things. I wrote it down to remind myself what I’m still doing here. Finding that core motivation created a pact between two opposing forces within me: I won’t drive us both off of the Williamsburg bridge so long as I allow myself to explore, find and discover new and beautiful things.

Have you ever made an agreement with yourself that comes with the implicit price of weeks upon weeks of discomfort in the name of stretching out your existence just a liiiiiitle bit longer? Have you ever begged yourself to hold on “just another couple of months” so you could see something pretty? Have you ever had to throw your life out of the window of a moving vehicle like so many cigarette butts so you feel like you’ve got something to hold onto?

You hear a lot of talk in the climbing world of if we’re running away from or to something. I believe there’s a gulf of grey area between the two, and somewhere in the middle it’s indecipherable. Maybe some of us exist in the ‘both’ category. Maybe all of us do. Maybe we’re all doing both. Maybe some of us look like we’re running away when we’re actually being chased by something. Is that me?

Moments after I merged onto I-90 south from the beltline I began sobbing. There’s a level of emoting that’s past ugly crying. It’s a rare kind of expression, expansive like the Grand Canyon. It’s where grief goes to die. There’s wailing that rises from your pelvic floor and shakes your molars with it’s sorrow and it’s so profoundly heartbreaking that it sounds like it’s someone else’s voice – sounds like the swan song of some magnificent beast. This is the sound of your heartache are ripped apart by compassionate demons, casting shredded bits into the fires of a loving hell. The process of recovery is a slow act of dissecting oneself.

The deconstruction of the ego, one mile at a time.

There’s no such thing as being lost, you’re just on a different route than the one you intended. And “should have.” Can we talk about that concept? To say you should have done something implies that there was some kind of obligation, some kind of right or wrong. It’s a thing we say to shame ourselves, to express our regret for not having done something different. It’s the mournful cry of hindsight. I feel that “could have” is a much better way of framing things.

I should have stayed in bed today becomes I could have gotten more sleep. I never should have come here becomes I could have saved myself some heartache had I made a different decision. I should have left well enough alone becomes I could have walked away. See, by reframing should have to could have you release yourself from the guilt of having picked the wrong way. Could have implies several options. Should have implies either or. And from that perspective all choices are learning experiences.

The glitter came out somewhere around the Illinois state line. I’d had the foresight to place it in my driver-side door cubby, so it was easy to access and hard to forget about. The glitter was applied liberally to myself and both dogs. For good measure, two shakes were thrown over my shoulder with the windows cracked to ensure maximum coverage of my bed, bags, skateboard and other scattered items inside my car. I am a pegasus, soaring through the interstate corridors, leaving a trail of glitter a mile wide behind me.

Forward, brave steed, westward across yon plains.

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