It appears my prediction of writing 2-3 blog posts per week this month was a bit optimistic.
I’ve been schlepping and preparing like a wild man for the last three weeks. On August 17th I moved out of the Argosy and into (gasp) the first place (and last) that I’ve ever lived truly by myself. A whole apartment, all mine.
I haven’t really had any time to furnish it (or even completely unpack), because now, a week later, I am on the eve of my great big solo backpacking trip. On Saturday the 25th, the day I turn 27, I’ll drive across the state and spend the week alone in New Mexico. My intent is to write; to explore; to hike and sleep in the woods; to clear my head; to enjoy the freedom of an open timetable; to rest; to scale mountains; to confront fears; to hear from my God; and to get clarity on some things.
It is with a mixture of gravity and humility that I am about to set out.
Gravity, because this is a big deal. I know a lot of guys who hike solo all the time, but this is my first time. I will be afraid, there is no question. But, in my experience the dangers of the woods are mostly illusory — the greatest enemy is fear of the unknown, and that is an adversary that will follow me back home to the real world.
Gravity, also, because I find myself at an unusual confluence of transitions, right now. I am engaged but not yet married. I am stretched between communities, and not yet committed to any particular one. I have a job that is good, but I’m trying to figure out if I should stay. Some of my closest friends are about to go abroad for a long long time, but they haven’t left yet. I am rethinking the Gospel, and what the Bible is meant for, and what makes a good purpose for living … and I haven’t settled on answers for any of those things yet. A lot of my world, to sum it up, is in flux. So, this trip is my sabbatical, a refuge amid the swell of instability. It is a shot at reconnecting with the only real trust I know in this world.
Humility, though, because ultimately this adventure is small. One guy leaves his urban life and lives in the mountains for a week. This is a small thing. Its reach may be large, but the adventures of all of your lives will have great reach as well. As I said, some of my closest friends are about to leave the country, serving abroad for several years. Their adventures will reach thousands of miles, and their footprints will trace out legacies. My footprints this week, by contrast, will be washed away quickly in the mountain monsoon rains.
But still, I go. With high hopes. With a tablespoon of fear and worry. With a guarded and mixed expectation that something will go wrong, and the resigned understanding that that’s part of this process. With a desperate faith, too, that my God will meet me in the mountains — or else this is all an utter waste of time.