Flashback to the Kaibab (Part 3)

6 October 2011 in Traveling


Top of the Morning to You!Cottonwood Campground is set in a pleasant little grove of Cottonwood trees next to a small creek. There were around twelve campsites and one or two group sites. Each campsite has a small, level area for a tent, a picnic table, and two metal boxes to store food in. We made one pass through the campground and picked a site we felt gave us the best balance of shade and view.

Then we had the seitan sandwiches we had made the night before we left and some pretzels and peanuts. After finishing our lunch we set up the tent and rested a little. Lindsay, fell asleep of course. I say this not in spite, she had certainly earned a nap, but more so in jealously. She has always had the ability to simply close her eyes in any place, under any conditions and she’ll be asleep in ten minutes. I, on the other hand can stay up all night, be dead tired, but if it’s the middle of the day or there’s the slightest discomfort or noise, I’ll never get a nap in.

So as I laid there in the tent my thoughts began to wander. It had began to rain so there was no escaping from myself through the beautiful distractions just outside of the tent. My thoughts were initially of home and of the friends and family we left behind. Since leaving this homesickness had visited me more often and sooner than I ever would have imagined. Part of leaving, was a growing boredom of the familiar and now I found myself craving it. I considered the idea that the love of travel and new surroundings was merely a vacation high in the past and now that high was wearing off. In the past our standard vacation was ten to fourteen days. Here we had been gone for over a month. It made me realize how I had taken Wisconsin for granted. Sure the natural surroundings there can’t hold a candle to what the west has to offer, but it did have a wealth of wonderful people who loved and cared for us. And though our surroundings were familiar and our lives often routine there is something to be said for that. There’s a comfort in knowing you can always call up an old friend and go have a drink. And when you go have that drink it will be in a place you’ve been before, where the bartender knows your name or at least your poison.

But then I pondered if the comfort of familiarity is binding and limits us. Is it merely the path of least resistance. We could have stayed in Madison and worked in our respective fields for the rest of our lives. We made decent money, loved the area we lived in, and had a good group of friends and family all within a short walk or drive. But there was a constant yearning to see and do more. We knew our life as it was was not the life we dreamed of.

And this brings me back to the isolation I felt in the tent. In the past I have spent plenty of time (probably too much) swimming in my own thoughts. It’s part of what led me out west. But here, for the first time I was provided no comfort through distraction when troubling thoughts arose. The things I’ve meant to accomplish. The places I’ve longed to go. The years I’ve let float by. At home, a few months ago, I would have turned on the tv. If we were back at the trailer I would have picked up a book. These distractions make it easier to procrastinate when it comes to our dreams. There’s no way to fail when you turn on the tv or spend a few hours on the internet, but there’s also no way to achieve.

The countless distractions we allow ourselves provide a barrier that protects us from our shortcomings. They allow us to live life vicariously from the safety of our own homes and the comfort of our home towns. I believe many people rely too heavily on these distractions and let their dreams and desires drown in them. Most of the people I know are not living the lives they want, but rather the lives they walked into. Five years at a job they settled for soon becomes twenty and meanwhile any aspirations they may have had get caught up in the day to day distractions. The simple comforts require little effort and almost no risk. While the things we day dream about often require enormous effort and substantial risk.

I am not here to say “kill your tv”. We all need a small vice here and there. And I am not here to pass judgement on how people choose to live their lives. If you’re honestly happy than at times I have been jealous. But if you have aspire to more than I encourage you to take the first step now. Tomorrow is not a promise or a guarantee.

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6 October 2011 Traveling

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