Kilometres walked: 14km / Total distance: 518km / Elevation gain: 810m / Elevation loss: 1045m / Time walked: 4h10min
If I’ve been thinking much?, a friend asks me via text. Implying, probably with a hint of sarcasm, that I’m on a journey of self discovery, or out here to answer some bigger question.
“Not really”, I write back. And it’s true, I haven’t been thinking much.
The trail is a bad place to think. Most of the time, just the simple act of walking requires full concentration. One could slip, slide, roll, trip, or one of the other countless ways to fall on your ass or, worse, down the mountain. On easier stretches the little space to think gets filled with thoughts about water, food, wayfinding, route planning, the trail, birds, plants, rocks, animals.
Most of the time, this little ribbon of rocks and dust and grass and soil that stretches from one sea to the other is all there is.
I didn’t come here to think, though. Thinking is what I do. In my job, in my daily life. It’s my modus operandi, my default way of dealing with whatever life throws at me. I’ll either think of a solution, or reason whatever it is away entirely.
I am here, I think (ha!), for some questions, but thinking, reasoning, is not going to give me answers. Instead, I feel, I sense, I experience, and try to listen to the little voices inside me.
Who am I when I am afraid? Who am I when I am alone? Can I find ways to be good company for myself? How do I relate to solitude, to loneliness, to exhaustion, to hunger and to thirst? How do I experience joy and exhilaration and gratitude? How do I relate to the world around me? How does the world relate to me?
Those and a million other questions are in the background of my mind, drowned out by step after step after step after step. The moment they come to the forefront, their answers slip through my mind like sand through my fingers. It’s only there, hiding in the back, almost in my subconsciousness, that answers slowly take hold.