A case for wandering

Some months ago, a seed of an idea took root within me: to go traveling ~ wandering, really ~ by myself, through the West for some chunk of time.

This little idea dropped quietly into my consciousness one day last winter, and right on its heels was a cacophony of voices about why it wouldn’t work:  No, you can’t do that. You have responsibilities. You have CLIENTS. Brett (my husband) would be sad. You can’t afford it. It’s impossible. Maybe one day…

So I tucked the little idea down inside of myself, hoping that I’d be just fine without it.

IT JUST WON’T GO AWAY

Well, you probably know how these things go. Basically, the idea just wouldn’t go away. I knew in my bones that I needed to do it; I just didn’t know how it would be possible.

One day this spring, after wrestling with and still trying to ignore the disruptive seed, in a moment of desperation, I spilled my thoughts to Brett: “So, I’ve been feeling like I need to get away, on my own, for a good chunk of time… ”

Much to my amazement, he responded with, “You have to go!”

I poked and prodded him to see if I could detect any fibbing or appeasing. “Will you be sad, or feel abandoned or anything?” I asked. “I mean, I might be gone for as long as six weeks!”

“I’ll miss you for sure,” he said, “but I want you to be happy. And if that means I’m alone for a month, so be it.” (Man, do I love this guy)

Done. The deal was sealed. I would go wandering by myself for some amount of time. And soon.

LEAVING HOME

I left Los Angeles on June 1. While away, I journeyed through south-western Colorado, south-eastern Utah, northern Arizona and then eventually back to California.

I intentionally made no plans for where I was going to sleep each night, but rather just followed my intuition and curiosity as I went along.

I slept indoors a total of exactly two times. The rest of the time I slept in an array of places: in a tipi, on a rock ledge above a place called Graveyard Canyon, IN Graveyard Canyon, in my car, on dirt roads, and in established campgrounds. Most nights, I got to fall asleep under the darkly bright blanket of the Milky Way.

Beside camping alone, I hiked by myself. I journaled. I napped. I read. I painted. I talked with strangers. I watched sunsets by myself, and I rose early to watch sunrises. I had my coffee by myself in the mornings, and ate dinner with myself in the evenings.

All in all, I drove almost 2,000 miles – you guessed it – by myself. And while I ended up being away for just about two and a half weeks when all was said and done, I never felt lonely. On the contrary, I felt closer to my self than I had in a great while, and I felt fed from the inside out.

SOME OF WHAT I BROUGHT BACK IN MY BASKET

I won’t go into ALL of the details of my travels here (maybe another blog post), but I do want to share a few realizations I came home with:

  • As someone who’s more introverted by nature, I NEED alone time: time to just be with my thoughts (i.e., journaling), to really process and understand how I’m feeling and what is most authentic for me in any given moment (for my fellow introverts out there, do yourself a favor and check out Quiet by Susan Cain)
  • Life is short, and as such, I’m no longer willing to say “yes” to something unless it’s a deep, real, and full “yes!” inside of me.
  • My soul needs to be outside in nature often. Very often.
  • The Earth and her creatures are vulnerable and need our care and stewardship – now more than ever before.
  • I’m not done wandering…

 

I’ll leave you with a bit of what my teacher (Bill Plotkin) has written on the subject of wandering (in fact, in his model of soul-centric human development, he’s dedicated an entire life stage to it: Stage 4 – The Wander in the Cocoon).


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~ Bill Plotkin, Nature & the Human Soul and Soulcraft


Some photos from my wanderings ~

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Night one. Holbrook, AZ
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Bison in Cortez, CO

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Summer Aspens

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Moles Lake, Colorado

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Molas Lake watercolor

 

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Silverton, Colorado

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A dandy shadow

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Yellow-bellied marmot!

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Ice Lakes Trail, CO

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Ouray, Colorado

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Ouray (the self-proclaimed “Switzerland of USA”)

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Black Canyon of the Gunnison, CO

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Mama and baby Black Bears

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Cimarron Ridge, CO

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Courthouse Mountain

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Courthouse watercolor

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“Newspaper Rock”, Canyonlands, Utah

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Canyonlands

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Sunset in Canyonlands

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Canyonlands campsite 

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Sunrise in Canyonlands

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Sunrise

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more Canyonlands

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Natural Bridges National Monument

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Moki Dugway, Utah

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Monument Valley

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Lake Powell, AZ

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Sunrise over Lake Powell

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