On (Not?) Missing Things

Somebody asked me the other day if I missed Portland, where I lived for 25 years, and I immediately said not really.

The ease and conviction of that statement caught us both off guard. Portland was a major chapter in my life, the place I chose when I chose to leave home, to go and build myself a life away from everybody and everything I knew. It’s a place where I learned and grew and lived and loved and had adventures and miseries and got sober and wrote books and the whole damn thing.

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Looks Are Intentionally Deceiving

 

I love the social media posts about being a “digital nomad,” which always show a lean, tan young model laughing at a hip co-working space or relaxing near a beach, with the sun just so, a laptop on her lap, coffee at her lips, and no doubt a yoga or paddle boarding date to come very soon. And then cocktails in a rooftop bar.

It all looks and sounds great — as does my life on Facebook at the moment. And sometimes people say things to me like, “Your life sounds amazing,” and I say in response, “It does sound amazing, doesn’t it?” Because on some level, that’s the point, especially of Facebook: to look and sound amazing.

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Dammit!

I just have to get back to writing.

I don’t even care what I write, how well, or for whom. Just push the damn words out. So many things go through my head and then … where? To what purpose? I always say my life is about “travel, hike and write,” but for me, if I don’t do the last one, why did I do the first two? It’s like putting a loaf in the oven and not baking it, much less eating or sharing it.

And it’s been a damn long time since I did any writing. Why? I have no idea. Being (self) blocked becomes a habit, I guess. Or a refuge of some sort. Can’t suck if you don’t write, can’t fail if you don’t try, can’t be rejected if you don’t ask, can’t get lost if you don’t take off. And once not trying becomes a habit, it’s awfully hard to break. You just wind up kind of … there, but messed up about it.

So I guess today was the day that the “write, dammit!” voice got loud enough, and the “maybe tomorrow” voice ran out of excuses. For now, anyway — no promises, to me or you.

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A Sign of the Quitting Time?

A backpack rest against a highway sign reading "Fawn Pass."

I don’t necessarily believe that the universe, or God, or gods, or The Way has a consciousness and some kind of plan, much less for me. It’s temping, though. I mean, which world do you want to live in? And is the world around us not defined, at least for us, by our thoughts?

All I know is that sometimes life throws at us something that sure seems like a sign. Or maybe a confirmation you’re on the right path. Or just something so damn nuts that you can only stare at it in disbelief and wonder what, if anything, it means.

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When the Smoke Clears

A hiking trail leads through trees toward a far-off mountain

Unable to take another day at the desk, I say to hell with it, throw my pack in the car, and hit the road.

I have a trail in mind, and I don’t care that online reviews say the road is a bitch, or that the smoke is still hanging thick in the valleys, or that it’s supposed to be close to 90, or that some reviewers said “bugs,” or that I’m out of shape, or this or that or anything else. I’m going hiking.

The road starts out nice, gets a little rough, and then brings my Kia Soul to a complete stop. Not where I was hoping to start, and the hike just got a little longer, a little tougher, but it’s not like I’m going back. And it’s too late to go somewhere else. Besides, this was the plan. I didn’t sign up for a perfect day in the mountains, even if that’s what I was hoping for. I signed up for a day in the mountains. Because I couldn’t take another day out of them.

I start walking.

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Up Eagle Creek

I was three miles up from the road, sitting at the edge of a forest, looking over a grassy, flower-dotted meadow and up a forested creek valley. There was a big grey mountain up there, half shrouded in clouds, with a few big patches of snow. The map said it was still a 12-mile hike to the base of it, but it looked like it was just right around the next bend in the creek.

It might as well have been 100 miles away, though, because I was not going to make it up there. At least not on this trip. That mountain, and all else that is up there, will have to wait til next year.

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Roadtrip: The Litte Moments

 

The sign on a barely paved road, leading into the sagebrush nothingness, with the name of a town and “12 miles.”

The glimpse of a snowy mountain range just over the bare local horizon.

Walking into a cafe and everybody in the place stopping to look at you juuuussst long enough to realize they don’t know you and they don’t care, then resuming their chatter.

A rest area with a horse, not pet, exercise area.

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On the Road Again, Choosing My Myths

There was a moment on the road today which I have chosen to mythologize.

Normally, I’m not a Big Moment guy. For example, as I left my hometown of 24 years, literally as I got in the car to drive off, there was a small dash of “Oh my gosh, this is happening,” but a lot more of “I need to let my friend in Bend know when I’m getting there for coffee.” Never mind the year of international travel I aspire to after that, or the two decades of life I was pulling away from.

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Dreams of Future Simplicity

There’s going to be a time when I don’t have to deal with all this — right?

It would be a comfort to think so, that at some point the schedule will be nice and simple, the days clean and the mind clear. Certainly it will happen in the new place? When the boxes are unpacked over there, a new life can emerge without all these current complications — right?

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