Tehachapi to Wind Farm Camp
Mile 566.4 – Mile 587
After 30 days on the trail and living out of a backpack, you would think I’d have learned something lasting. I’ve talked before about the trail teaching gratitude and how deprivation makes a good whetstone. Apparently any edge I obtained was short lived and I am embarrassed to say the lessons appear to have fled soon after leaving the trail.
It’s a silly example but yesterday, after being in town for a mere eight hours, I went from “My kingdom for an ice cube!” to “What? The hotel ice machine only has crushed ice? I don’t want to put that in my scotch!” I was chagrined to notice how quickly the expectations of life in the modern world reasserted themselves. I live with so much unconscious privilege and I think maybe bringing that to the trail has made things more difficult.
In another example, I could have been upset that the guest laundry at the hotel was out of order. “Well, how am I going to wash my clothes?” Fortunately, Kevin was coming with a car and we could drive to a laundromat (privilege of family and transportation) but who says I am entitled to clean clothes? Why should there be a grassy flat spot to pitch my tent? Why should water be available at reasonable intervals?
During our visit, Joel said something to me about my writing having an undertone of struggle. It got me thinking today that maybe my approach has been the cause. Pitting myself against the trail with all my baggage of expectation creates a struggle that otherwise would not exist. Today I tried simply accepting the trail as it was and not casting it as a challenge to be conquered. My ankles still didn’t the like loose, rocky downhills but my mind was clear and in a much better place.
Awareness of expectation and acceptance of circumstance can go a long way in reducing or even eliminating suffering.
I could have used the insight from my afternoon musing this morning after leaving town and Kevin. Transitioning back to trail mode is tough and a big climb with strong winds buffeting me, did not make it easier. After getting over the ridge the trail joined a rocky ATV track. It was a no fun walk back into a remote pinwheel forest where I camped after making my 20 mile goal.
Here’s hoping that today’s insight takes deeper root and lasts not only the rest of the trail but also back in my privileged life.