So let me pause for a moment, before I go on with this trip and let you know a little bit about what’s been going on in my head while traveling. I did a six week sojourn once before, in 2016. But the circumstances and motivation for travel were entirely different.
At that time, I needed to get up, get away, change my surroundings. I’d lost my home, my husband and my little family. I had no idea what my life could or should look like anymore. All I knew was that I’d walked through disaster the best I knew how and now I was taking a break. From everything. I went away to see different sights and hear different voices. I really didn’t care to hear my own thoughts (boring) or the friends and family around me who reassured me that I’d recover, move on, have a new life. I didn’t want a new life. I wanted my old life. But it was gone. So, when all else fails – when you don’t know what to do with yourself – it seems good to go do stuff for someone else. I left town, went and volunteered far away, did a little adventuring. I got used to being one person instead of operating as part of a family unit. I heard different discussions and topics (thank goodness). I saw the Brexit vote come down. I weeded and moved sheep and picked fresh strawberries and laid out sheet mulch and watered pigs.
And it was good.
I came back feeling like not everything in the world was about me and my shattered life. There is all kinds of stuff going on out in the world all the time. And if you want to, you can go see what it is. So I did. It was interesting and fun and beautiful and hard work. But most of all, it was different. Whew! I needed that.
Then I came back and started again.
This time, I’m gone for the same amount of time. However, my frame of reference is not what it once was. Instead of homeless, I have a home. Instead of a shattered family, I’ve realized my family is all there, just rearranged a bit. It was rearranging itself anyway, with my kids becoming independent adults. And my nuclear family switched back from me and them and their father to me and my parents and my siblings and then all of our collective kids. Same family, different arrangement, different arrangements of care and cooperation. Husband gone, yes. Still a tough one, that. I met someone the other day who said to me “Just 3 years ago? Ooooh, that’s not very long.” Somehow to me, I thought I’d be healed and on my way to a new partnership after a year, certainly two. Instead, I’ve walked deeper and deeper into being alone. Just an individual, with an individual’s life.
In 2016, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I didn’t even want to do anything with myself. For years I’d been working toward a vision of having my own place (uh, with husband) out in the landscape where I could live simply, do creative work, bring family and friends out to enjoy and renew themselves, have a few animals, and generally enjoy the beautiful place that is northern New Mexico. I was right there. For a brief moment, right there. But when you get within reach of your dream and it gets washed away by a flood – all at once and decisively – the questions stay and stay. Rebuild or abandon the site? Work toward the same dream or give it up and find a new one? Were you deluded? Or just unlucky? And of course, the killer: What next? In 2016, I had no idea. But now, I have at least a glimpse.
I don’t have it all figured out. But I’ve got some clues. What’s next includes the following:
- a great home where I’m comfortable, get to share important time with my parents, get to enjoy the camaraderie of neighbors who want to know and support each other, where I feel safe all the time, where I can walk in the open landscape with my dog and breathe in the sky, the trees, the clear air and the mountains beyond us.
- the beginnings of work that just might fit me (for once) – whether in one form or another, a single undertaking or many. I have enough experience, skills, ability and trust in myself to know that I can do anything. Anything.
- an understanding that endlessly trying to plan for the future and helplessly ruminating over the past prevent me from experiencing the only thing actually happening, ever – the present.
So with that framework, instead of the one in which I was gripped in 2016, I continued (and continue – now writing a week further along than my posts relate) with my trip.