I’m fuzzy after the all night travel back home from a month of traveling. I’ll have a couple of days of waking up early and starting tasks I don’t complete before being distracted by the other thing until my soul catches up with my body. I sort of like these days of disorientation where I sleep and eat at strange times. It’s pleasant to reacquaint myself with the familiar places of my house and yard as if seeing them new. Saying hello to the plants, opening mail and hugging kids and grandkids.
I had thought I would keep up my weekly blog intent while on this trip and wanted to keep exploring my relationship to trees that I started in my last post-literally, figuratively, metaphorically, spiritually and even Biblically, but… I did not. However, I did commune with trees every day; from the spreading maples of the Guest House retreat center in Connecticut to the oaks and beeches of the Maine coast, to the panorama of colors in the mountains of New Hampshire and Vermont to the dazzling reds and golds across the Adirondacks, the Canadian side of the Lake Ontario and Huron, the irridescent golds of Wisconsin and Minnesota and finally to Iowa where the colors were just beginning to bewitch. The red maples were perhaps my favorite as they remind of my childhood and because they come in so many variations–pink, maroon, purplish red, red lipstick red and mottled reds–even red and green on the same leaf. The many walks through these woods that were in ways so unfamiliar to the Alaskan, were thrilling and at the same time stilling. They often gave that ground to days filled with miles of car travel and scenes rushing past the window.
I’m aware that traveling has had this thrill since my first ventures out as a child on car trips to see the Black Hills of South Dakota and my first sight of real Native Americans. Later I began my cloning to the mountains, first in Colorado oncollege ski trips (12 non-stop hours from Iowa State to Aspen). And later living out the advice of the book “Europe on $10 a Day” while exploring from Norway to Italy on a three month backpacking trip. That experience fueled my decision to then head to Alaska for a job “just for a year” that turned into 44 thus far. Each year I’ve traveled somewhere, and in later years 4-5 times a year to idyllic South Sea islands, back to Europe three more times, Asia, Australia, Central and South America and of course, a regular mecca to Hawaii like most Alaskans.
Travel has stretched my ability for compassion, wonder and patience. It’s changed my mind about the human race and its potential. And, since there’s too much to say about how travel has ripped my soul and then repaired it, I’ll just summarize by saying, it’s been part of discovering myself.
So how interesting that this trip, I began to sense that traveling for me has begun to change. “The body doesn’t lie” has been my mantra as I learn to take care of myself better in these later years. It doesn’t like it so much. I can force it to keep on for appearance sake–I mean it’s always fun to tell others about travels and I know my ego loves it–but it’s almost as if I’ve filled up that need now. I still yearn a little to go to England which I can’t believe I’ve missed with my love of English literature and movies. And the animals of Africa are so alluring that I felt a safari would someday be my path. But I am beginning to think I just may not go in this lifetime. It’s still a little surprising.
I’ve discovered there is so much that is right here wherever I am. The inner journey has become increasingly seductive. My meditation goes deeper and farther that I could once imagine. Staying still. Going slow. Being curious. Exploring presence. Walking with awareness. Paying attention. Listening to silence. These are becoming more and more interesting to me.
I know I will still travel; part of this new inner exploration takes me to retreats not held in Alaska and family and friends beckon me too. But there is no longer the drive once there. Instead there is the chair and the quiet of early morning and my body at rest. A time to write at last.