It’s one of those mornings when I’m on the road again in my head. Packing sleeping bags in the cold mountain air. Blowing steam off my coffee in a circle of other travelers. Packing up to leave, pulling on heavy boots. Twelve thousand feet above sea level. Hungry but exhilarated.
It’s easy to forget the struggle: what it takes to choose the adventure over the safe. To get to those places and exist in them longer-term is mostly a matter of willingness to abandon fear, to detach from whatever status or position achieved, and then there’s the objects of our affections to be suspended or let go of. An apartment, a car, a job, a semester, a social circle, a mentality, an ideology, a lover, a life dependent upon the comforts of the known. Easier done when you have less to lose, but even then most will naturally balk.
For me, all this was nothing compared to what it took to return. To reintegrate back into a culture built on and fascinated by the concept of freedom, yet embracing a type of freedom warped by comparison to the freedom you’ve just experienced on the road. A freedom that almost looks like imprisonment – a rat race. Yet this is the same rat race that gave you the road, the resources and privilege to earn it by struggle. You yourself, you realize, love the rat race too. Each day suppressing true feeling, true significance in order to keep up. From time to time you wholly accept its superficial qualifications and you strive to reflect them, become them. You get off on it, at least one small part of you feels this is natural. Until the day that you just can’t take it anymore. And then you turn to the few people whom you’ve ever really loved, in your mind. You turn to the waves, the trees, the birds. Sand, rivers, the clouds. Tiny lights flickering in the shadows.