Sunday, October 26, 2014

Why did you go hiking with a purse?

It was an accident. Sort of. Mostly.

Yesterday morning I woke up with wanderlust. Those who have it know that wanderlust is a serious chronic condition and must be treated as such. If you fail to periodically give into your urge to roam, you'll suddenly find yourself on the far side of Utah Lake an hour and a half into your one-hour lunch break or looking at flights to London when your passport expired years ago.

Anyway, given how I was feeling when I woke up yesterday, I knew from past experience that any attempts at mundane productivity would be futile. So I decided this would be a Saturday for satisfying my travel bug. I decided to go on an adventure. Famous last words, right?

At first I thought I'd just drive to a lake, park myself in my camping chair, and read all day.

I did that. But by noon the yen to explore struck again. I packed up, headed back to the car, and kept driving. That's how I wound up in Park City.

In case you've never been there, let me just tell you that Park City is a magical place where anything can happen. No, I'm serious. How else do you explain what followed?

One minute I was parking my car in a garage off main street. I thought: I'm low on steps today. I'll just do some window shopping. Then I saw a cool house down a side street that I wanted to get a closer look at. And then there was one of those metal staircases made for snow, and it led up to a super steep road with old ski shacks on either side. When the pavement ended, there was a mountain biking trail past these long-dead cars that have been slowly rusting since the 60s. And finally I realized I was in a veritable forest of pine trees and there was a bull elk chilling downhill about twenty feet away from me.

And I was still wearing my purse.

Obviously, I blame the wanderlust.

At that point I realized my only option was to take advantage of this unexpected plunge into the wilds (can you plunge uphill?) and sit down on a rock off one side of the trail to write in my journal, which I keep in my purse at all times. And this is what I wrote:

I love pine trees.

I love the way they swing gently back and forth when the wind blows, and I love that low but urgent whistling sound they make. I love how they stay green, even when everything else has turned brown. I love that they remind me of childhood field trips to the rain forests in Washington. I love the way they smell of earth and eternal things. I love how their tops catch the sunshine and filter it greenly down to me.

And then I wrote more and more and more until my bum was sore from sitting on the rock and I got tired of having to stand up and move out of the way whenever a mountain biker came past.

I will likely never go back to that trail in Park City. That's the way wanderlust is. There are too many other places to explore, too many things to see. But because I stopped to write and think, maybe I'll never forget how it felt to be there. That's what I hope anyway. I hope I can take the peace of that place with me and hold onto it for awhile.

I wonder if that's all writing really is. I think in a way it's just collecting. Collecting people and places and feelings and dreams.

This is all starting to sound really pretentious. And I'm sorry about that. I hate it when artsy people step outside reality and I try not to do it very often, mostly because I'm not really as artsy as you might think. There's a reason I don't write poetry—I wind up sounding hopelessly trite.

But I feel it's important to periodically immerse yourself in soul-enlarging things. Whether it's a walk in the woods, an afternoon reading T.S. Eliot, a trip to a museum, or an hour or two listening to Gershwin or Ravel. Don't forget that your soul has needs just as much as your eating, breathing body.

I don't know what fuels your spirit. Maybe it's sports or science or desert scenery. For me it's beaches and bungalows and stars and sonnets and wind chimes and willow trees. And many, many other things.

All I know is I'm grateful for a world full of unexpected adventures and new things to see. I plan to keep collecting them, even if it sometimes makes me a little too artsy, a little too pretentious for my own comfort. Writing is just my way of making the world a part of me.

And in case you don't have ready access to the magical land of Park City, here is my parting gift to you all on a Sunday night: two hours of organ music.

Pipe Dreams from American Public Media

It will feed your soul. Trust me.

No comments:

Post a Comment