What a shock to return to city life in Austin, Texas. Things quickly became complicated. It was wise to take a couple of weeks to make the 2000 mile journey back.
I was gone for seven months. Most of that time I was either on the Appalachian Trail, or camping in the woods. Life had become very simple. On the trail, I had honed my pack to a lean 20-22 pounds, not including food and water. That included more than everything I needed: shelter, bedding, clothing, kitchen, toiletry and first aid. Suddenly, with my truck and house, I was surrounded by all this “stuff”. Oddly, I wasn’t any happier.
For the first time in months, I checked the national headline news. I was hoping for hope itself. Yet I was greeted by the sparring and conflict between Greta Thunberg and President Trump. One, a young teen mature well beyond her years. The other a seasoned and chafe con artist struggling for the civil maturity of a middle school bully. The young lady was looking for ways to raise awareness about the future of our global environment. The president was looking for ways to bullishly and usuriously obliterate it. Conflict was inevitable.
I wonder why so many people go about in such a hurry. We’re never happier anywhere else than we are wherever we are, and hurrying to get somewhere else doesn’t seem to help. Also, I wonder why so many people need so much “stuff”. We’re never any happier with “more” than we are with “less”. I wonder if anyone ever looks deeply at the blind rat mazes of hurrying and consuming.
While on the trail, there were periods, sometimes days at a time, when I did not hear any man-made sounds. The prominence of Nature was overwhelming. In the city, I struggle to hear the sounds of Nature, it’s drowned by traffic, sirens, air conditioners, and construction. I get the sense that we’re on a run away hell-bound train that has a certain and inevitable consequence looming just around the turn. On the trail, I was fortunate to participate in the interconnectedness of Nature and Life. From the beauty of the mountains and rivers, to the blessing of my own physical limitations of hunger, and weariness, I felt connected to all that was around me. In this city, as we speed hastily in the roulette of traffic encased in flimsy tin and plastic projectiles with wheels and airbags, we depend on being separate from each other to justify our aggression.
Through it all, I will admit that I’m part of it, I’m not separate from any of it. At this point in our collective history, more than ever before, we’re being called to come together. It’s true for each and every one of the inhabitants of this planet: we’re either part of the solution, or we’re the problem itself. There was a popular TV series called Millenium in the late ’90s that had a tag line I come back to in times of duress: “This is who we are.“