What’s the Plan?

Plans aren’t everything, and they change all the time, but it still helps to know what the current one is.

The most extreme example I can recall of needing to remember the plan was when I jumped off a 200-foot-high bridge. I was bungee jumping, which of course I had decided to do, but a large part of my brain did not care about that as I stepped to the edge. It was screaming “No!” on every channel.

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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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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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Meeting With Mountain Me

wind river mountains

The mountain version of me forever waits up in the high country, or in the woods, or by a riverside, to remind “city me” why he should get out more.

We sit in beautiful, even sacred places, talking about life and peace and being centered in what’s really important. We laugh and tell stories and even sing. Mountain me is eternally patient, ever reminding city me that this, this right here, is why you fight through the inertia, the driving, the weather, the to-do list, the fatigue, and the depression, to get out here.

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A Walk in the Snowy Woods. Or Maybe a Life Lesson.


The original plan was Ramona Falls. This time of year, that can be a challenge, with snow on the road, the trail, and an already tricky river crossing on logs. So I would need an early start, some luck, and perhaps a little bravery. I set the intention the night before, and since nobody else was going, it was all on me.

I woke up to wind thumping the windows and tossing the wind chimes. And coffee. And emails. And since I wasn’t meeting anybody or on any schedule, I decided to chill a while. I could leave by, oh, let’s say 9.

And somewhere in there I noticed a pattern of thought developing: that if I started too late and didn’t make it all the way to Ramona Falls, I will have failed.

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Recovery Share: Some Thoughts on Depression

I was going to call this one “Thoughts on the Looming Darkness,” with September in Oregon always making one start thinking of November in Oregon, but that whole thing seemed a little … well, dark. And click-baitish.

Also, it’s not that bad. But it is a little window into what I want to write about today, which is depression. A more or differently depressed person might well have led with “looming darkness,” because that’s how it can seem when you’re that kind of depressed. But what does it even mean to be depressed? And what would be the motivation for leading with such drama? To cry out for help? Feed into one’s own story of depression? Try to reduce its power through ridicule?

Off we go, into my confused (and often depressed) mind.

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Recovery Share: What is This Feeling About?

Sometimes I catch myself having a feeling and can’t figure out why I’m having it.

A common example is shame or guilt; I will simply be going through my day and realize I feel exactly the way you feel after you screw something up — only I can’t remember exactly what I supposedly screwed up. Or sometimes I am angry, playing out fights or arguments in my head, and don’t remember why I started feeling anger in the first place.

My basic belief about feelings is that they come from thoughts and beliefs. Sometimes they come so quickly that it seems automatic. For example, my team scores a goal and I feel happy. Of course. But why? Because I prefer my team to win — and that’s because of some convoluted belief system that’s probably a whole separate post. (Something about “basking in the reflected glory.”) Continue reading “Recovery Share: What is This Feeling About?”