I don’t want to compare myself with the downward spiral of America, but lately I’ve been feeling off. Lacking. Wanting. Unmotivated. Uninspired. Just meh. And it’s been so easy to point the blame: politics, work, relationships. I just needed time…time to adjust, find my place again, figure out next steps, get back to Reality.
Maybe this excuse actually worked…at first. I did need time. But it’s come to the point where I’m forced to admit the truth: I’m now just watching Time come and watching Time go, without making anything of it. I know they say thru-hiking ruins your life, but it’s been nine months! How much Time do I need?
A few weeks ago I got on my bee-bop bike and went for a ride. Well, sort of. I hadn’t given any thought as to where I would go, which is probably why I peddled in a straight line until I could peddle no longer. Not because I was tired, because I ran out of road; just three short blocks away, where my little street ends and Lake Mendota begins. That’s what happens when you live on an isthmus.
All day the sky had teased those below with impending doom, threatening to be so much worse than the sunshine sprinkles and distant rumbles it had given us so far. The lake was eerily calm, the clouds spectacular, the breeze gentle.
Beautiful. Sort of a bummer I’m going to miss the sunset.
I had already turned my bike around to go nowhere in particular, when my (albeit, tiny) Voice of Reason stopped me.
Whoa, what? Miss the sunset? It’s 7:10, sunset isn’t for at least another hour. Why are you already committed to missing it?
Excellent question, Voice of Reason. Why had I? This wasn’t the Me I knew. What was happening? What a strange thought, the sun hadn’t even set yet, why did I have to miss it? Why was I making a premature choice to do so?
That’s when I realized my mistake. I had been blaming my lack of inspiration and motivation and on anything other than the obvious…me. If I turned my bike around and peddled home, that would be me choosing to miss the sunset. No one was forcing me to miss it. I made choices every day: who to spend my time with, where to spend it, how to spend it. All in my control. Maybe I was uninspired, unmotivated, because I was choosing to spend my time in uninspiring and unmotivating ways.
I turned my bike around and raced home anyway. But just to grab a book, a blanket, and some wine. I was going to see the sun’s final hours today. My choice.
I sat lakeside for almost two hours, watching the scenery change around me. I watched the ducks swim aimlessly back and forth, the anchored boats sway to and fro. I watched the sun slide slowly into the lake, the colors dance across the sky, the clouds drift away. I listened to the wind rustling the trees, the bugs buzzing by, the waves licking the shore. And it was good.
Not everything has to be this incredible journey. I have to seek the good stuff in the ordinary too. Because if I don’t, I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to paint Mona Lisa into an existing landscape (impossible, I’m a shit artist) instead of creating a totally unique landscape around the Mona Lisa (totally doable, I mean, I have an insane imagination, the possibilities are endless).
Every day doesn’t have to be big. A day can just be a day. I can go to work, bike three blocks to the lake, and watch the ducks swim in the lake while it swallows the sun.
And it’s good. It’s all good.