hiking, rock face

Umm…guys? What’s going on?

If you’re like me (that is, if you’re nearly anyone who lives in a northern climate or a perpetually rainy one, or if you’re a teacher), you dragged your soggy, near-lifeless corpse over the threshold from spring into summer about a month ago, and you’re just now starting to feel human again. The warm air has started to soothe your worry lines, and the brushing-my-teeth-is-a-herculean-task-yet-I-must-find-the-strength-to-go-to-work-in-the-7am-darkness twitchiness is fading.

I still catch myself clenching my jaw and starting at odd moments with sudden anxiety over non-existent deadlines. But I’m also taking meandering walks and flossing again, so I’m definitely making progress.

I am slowly re-learning how to relax. But in the back of my mind, the narrative goes something like this:

Today, I’m going to write an article, and finish my website, and go for a hike and do yoga and avoid eating sugar, and also be serene and at peace with myself. DON’T SKIP THE YOGA! DON’T DO IT! DON’T EAT THAT MUFFIN!

I love that I finally have the energy to take these positive steps towards being a healthier, more energetic, less anxious person. DON’T WASTE THIS TIME, IT IS SHORT! SOON IT WILL BE NOVEMBER AND YOU’LL BE MISERABLE UNLESS YOU DO ALL THE WELLNESS ACTIVITIES RIGHT NOW.

It’s so nice to finally have some time to focus on my own projects, and reconnect with my creative self. IF YOU DON’T FINISH A BOOK THIS SUMMER AND PITCH ALL YOUR DREAM PUBLICATIONS, YOU WILL BE A FAILURE AS A WRITER.

I’m so lucky that I get to spend time hiking and climbing and swimming in lakes and oceans; being outside is good for my soul. AND ALSO FOR MAKING ME LESS FAT AND SLOW. I CAN’T BELIEVE HOW OUT OF SHAPE I AM NONE OF MY FRIENDS WILL WANT TO SKI WITH ME THIS WINTER AND I WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO RUN AN ULTRA RIGHT NOW WHAT IF I NEVER AM I SHOULD TRAIN.

This trail run is making me frustrated with my body’s limitations. WHAT ARE YOU DOING, I THOUGHT WE WERE PRACTICING SELF-LOVE. ASSHOLE.

So that’s what I’m working with.

In the tumbler drum of freelance, multi-career multi-tasking, I’ve almost forgotten how not to have an ulterior motive. It’s never just a hike. It’s an Instagram photo op and a potential article and a stepping stone to bigger days and stronger quads. I have trouble sitting down to write anymore without thinking about where I might publish the final result, and how I can get paid to do so.

So you can understand why I’m inordinately proud of the fact that instead of working on an article that a person with sense might publish, I’m writing a blog post that has absolutely no point. (Good for me!)

Something I am trying to figure out is this: how can a hike be just a hike again? And if it were, would it feel emptied out of purpose and meaning? And if it did, would that be ok? We are creatures of story. We take bits and pieces — hormones and heart rate — and we make meaning out of them — falling in love. I want everything to have a reason, to mean something. Even when life has taught me over and again that most things don’t — they just are. I’m the one making the story. And I’m cool with that. But I also want to acknowledge that events and people have their own integrity outside of my memoir-in-the-making.

Can I find wonder in the pieces? The spiritual in the mundane?

Can I learn to be content with hiking as it is, with life as it is – no adornments or inner dramas, an imperfect narrative? I think I have to try. Because the alternative is a brain on overload, all the time, until it all falls apart.

Instead of embracing the freefall this time, I’d like to try keeping things together. Ironically, I think that means letting go a bit.