Reassimilation is, I have learned, the last hurtle of the trail. The mountains are done but the battles are not. I have moved into a little, old house off of the Marietta square. Four of us live in two halves of the house with some shared space and there is even another two people living in a "mother in law suite" out back. The amount of people we have on such a small amount of land is a point of pride for me. I can walk to the local coffee shop and to countless restaurants whenever I want and I shop at the farmers market on the weekends. Because of the location there is almost always a friend nearby, but despite all of these things, still there is an overwhelming sense of loneliness in my life.
I live by the train tracks. On Wednesday nights the freights are very
frequent and speak the dialect of a higher consciousness. Once, one
spoke to me, "You don't fit in here. You don't belong here. You are only
here out of habit." I recognized this. It was my subconscious. I had been awakened by the blast of the train horn far off in the distance and as I faded into consciousness my mind retained its grasp on the deep, deep thought of my dreaming, more honest state of mind. It broke me because it was true and I knew it. The only reason this thought had not come rolling across the marquee of my mind in a waking state was because it was painfully true.
If I was not already a little estranged from nearly everyone in my town for wanting to drop my life for six months and hike, having done just that doesn't help at all. I have never been quick on fads, or known about anything on the TV, radio or internet and seldom did I ever try. But now my indifference towards these things has grown into an accusation. These are the things that are making me lonely. Even the small amount at which I am a part of them, they affect me in a negative way. After being separated from them for so long, I now see what a large role these things play in the lives of my friends and the lives of my generation. When I am hanging out with imaginary friend A and imaginary friend B, the internet is always a fourth friend on the scene. It both fascinates and disturbs me how strongly we commune with our phones and laptop, the providers of this entertainment. We craft such a livelihood in cyber space but all the while our actual living and breathing souls are being neglected. Why can't I sit alone in public and not be on my phone? Why do I have to check Facebook again even though surely nothing excited has happened in the last fifteen minutes?
It is a sickness. We want to be a few clicks away from the entire world but we don't want to be close to anyone in real time. On the trail I lived or died by my fellow hiking partners. They made me laugh when I was crying and fed my soul. They made me eat their food when I didn't have my own and fed my belly. There is no tighter community than that of the community that relies on each other in all parts of daily life. Now I find my self in a place where no one needs me and I am expected to need no one. I can buy all the groceries I want, pay all my bills and rent on time and be as self sufficient as I want but this won't satisfy the human shaped hole in my life. In this new life we all run around like chickens with our head cut off, aimless in our flapping. Directionless, if only we had a North.
I moved back to Marietta believing that several friends and I were headed for Denver come spring and I would only spend a new months here saving up money. I have since been reminded that I no longer live among a clan of people bat shit crazy enough to say "I want to walk 2,200 miles in all sorts of elements over the roughest of terrain for a very extended amount of time" and then go out and actually do it. I am back in the normal world where it is somehow acceptable to have a dream that never becomes a reality. So I now find myself directionless, if only I had a North.
The trail has given me this impression that two or more people can decide that they want to reach a goal and that by helping each other out, that can achieve that goal. Maybe this is only true with long distance hiking, but I feel as if it is a universal application. I am not afraid to set my own goals and do what is necessary to achieve them. I have done it before and I will do it again. But I have seen the light of a life filled with partnership of so many levels and it is so fulfilling. I suppose I am now on a journey to find a sustainable life in which is the norm. Exposure is the first step. I know it exists and I know I desire it. Now I must work to find it. Wherever it may be...