Reflections from walking the Florida trail

For the last two months, I’ve been spending my time walking 600 miles of the Florida Trail. There are so many impressions to write about, I don’t quite know where to start. Well, to begin with, I can say it didn’t turn out as I expected it would. Do you know when before a trip you can get lost in daydreams about what it’s going to be like? Those daydreams did not come true. The reality was in many ways far better. In some ways harder than imagined. Overall I am very happy that I got out here and did it.

I’ve done some trips on my own now. One thing that always strikes me, which I would think I got passed by now, is the notion that I think I’m going to end up as this transformed being during and after the trip. The stuff that’s bothering me at home will miraculously be worked out never to bother me again. That is so very not true as I’ve experienced on multiple occasions by now. The same shit that I’m struggling with at home follows me everywhere. And really, the things I’m struggling with are nothing unique. It’s the same hardships as many of you out there face. Fear of being alone and abandoned. Fear of not being good enough. Fear of not being independent enough. Fear of needing help and people. Anger and frustration regarding people and why I can’t seem to shake it. Insecurity. Indecisiveness. Anxiety. Being overwhelmed. These things follow me wherever I go. Even though I’m not particularly fond of them most of the time they are my greatest teachers. Practice opportunities. Ques to tell me where to look deeper. When I’m not willing to be with life as it is. 

In our western culture, there is a great divide between “positive and negative” emotions; some we like and some we dislike. The ones that are supposed to be there and those which shouldn’t be there at all. The wanted and the unwished for. This dichotomy is the greatest illusion of my life. The delusion which keeps me separated from life and love, and makes me judgemental of people and myself.
Someone does something that makes me angry: boom! Bad feeling, nasty person, guilt-ridden me etcetera etcetera, keeping the circle of suffering going. And don’t get me wrong here, suffering is not bad and neither are feelings. They are just part of the current which keeps the river called life flowing.

Back to walking – when walking and being out there with your backpack filled with all that you need, things are stripped down. No schedule to keep in the everyday life kind of way, no meetings to attend to, and so on. It’s just you walking. Your feet start to hurt, you are hungry, it’s too hot, it’s too cold… These simple, inevitable parts of life come knocking on your door. How are you going to greet them? Shut the door in their face pretending they’re not there? Letting them in and letting them take over your house? Are you happy to see them or eager to see them go? What does that bring up in you?

Walking for a long time is a blessing. An opportunity to watch yourself in n action. It may sound ridiculous, I mean, you can watch yourself all the time, but I know I don’t. I’m mindless, forgetful, daydreaming away my time a lot in my ordinary everyday life. I’m often on autopilot. Things need to get done. Out in the woods, I get help from my surroundings noticing how I greet things that I encounter and how I choose to move on from that point. How I treat myself and how I treat others.

Now I know more of what I already knew and I will keep asking myself the same question as always: are you willing to meet life as it is?

Originally posted on the 24th of May 2020.

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