Losing my Religion

Recently, I was having a discussion with a friend of mine and we were discussing living in the moment, dealing with fears, and taking risks in life.  You see, in the prior years, I’ve found that I’m starting to turn into an old man.  Not necessarily old by physical standards, although at almost 44, I feel the pains brought about by previously believing far too much in what my body can take.  I’ve become more conservative and less tolerant of things in life.  My friend and I joke about ending up on some porch someday, cantankerous and yelling at neighborhood children.

The talk produced an interesting conversation of how we don’t enjoy the outdoors enough.  I’ve always admired those that bike in all kinds of weather.  So, a week later, I found myself taking a run along the Mississippi river south of downtown Minneapolis in the pouring rain.

It was after a day of work, and I desperately needed some exercise.  It wasn’t coming down too hard, but I thought I’d be fine wearing my marmot shell.  A mile in, the rain started coming down fairly hard.  On another run, I would have turned back, but that day, I decided to go for a loop between Franklin and the Stone Arch Bridge.  Passing others as I made my way under the Washington Street bridge, I caught the eye of others that were either biking or running in the rain as well.  A shared look, grunt of encouragement and sharing some small thing that most people miss in life.  I plodded forward.

By the time I was crossing the Stone Arch Bridge, the rain had abated again, but started to pick up as I passed under the I-35W bridge, by the abandoned railroad tracks, and into the University of Minnesota campus.  Running along the Dinkytown greenway, the rain finally started up just shy of coming up on the TCF Stadium.  I was past the halfway point, there was no other option than to finish this run.  By the time I reached West River Parkway, the rain had become a full-on downpour.   My jacket was fairly wet on the outside, and my shorts and shoes were drenched.  My legs were tired, and my feet started to get cold from running through puddles.  I had just a little over a mile till I returned home.  Crossing the Franklin bridge, there was lightning off in the distance, yet, I wasn’t the only one out there braving the elements.  Finally arriving home, I was drenched and tired, but exhilarated by the experience.

I need adventure and the means to express that.  Some type of wildness exists in all of us.  Paul Kingsnorth of the Dark Mountain Project writes about our loss of wild places and concerns about our increasing disconnection with the outside and wildlife.  He and other similar writers are sounding the alarms of our growing reliance on technology, and disconnection from nature.  I’m a hypocrite, knowing that I work in technology, and enjoy spending a lot of my time indoors.  But these ideas have struck a nerve.

I haven’t traveled much this year, for various reasons, some of which are my unease about the current state of travel and what it represents.  However, not traveling has resulted in questions of what I’ve identified about myself in the past.  And, In the last year, I’ve found it more and more difficult to detach myself from work.

So, I’ve been struggling with any kind of prospect of where to go and what to do with myself, being unable to select a destination.  But destination, I think, should probably be one of the last things to concern a traveler (minus flying to some dangerous, war-torn region of the world).  I needed to remind myself that it’s about going somewhere where I can just “Be” and let my attachments dissipate and re-connect with myself.  I wish sometimes that I didn’t feel the need to go someplace to feel that way, but here we are.

So, merely two weeks before scheduling my vacation from work, I bought a ticket to Ireland.  Stories coming soon……