Returning to Lansing (5 lessons for next time)

After walking close to 100 miles from Lansing to Three Rivers, Michigan, I have decided to temporarily return home to regroup and recharge.

Let’s consider Lansing to Three Rivers a warm-up round (and it was one heck of a stroll, really).

Here are five measures to heed to get even further next time:

1. Sustain focus

a. on destination

When departing Lansing, my heart was set on Oregon. A few days in, I lost my Oregon vision. I liked the idea of just drifting, and still do. However, that pull towards Oregon was not replaced by an equally powerful drive. And without a drive I felt awfully directionless in moments of pain and insecurity.

Maybe there is a way to have a strong drive to drift. A specific location is probably not required in order to keep the volume on my inner drive cranked up. However, at this point all I am sure of is that my motivation to motate diminished considerably when I lost sight of an end goal.

b. on personal objectives

At the outset I was thinking that this would be a fantastic opportunity to get serious about veganism again (I have “dabbled” for years).

Then I go into a McDonalds at 3AM because it is the only place open and with wi-fi and I am tired and hungry. Why not just get a huge-ass burger? After all, I am walking across the U.S. There is plenty of time to get this vegan thing right.

I also had vague plans of doing lots of yoga on the road (not to be confused with ‘in the street’).

In my journey’s week and a half duration, I have made healthy eating choices maybe 8% of the time and done yoga twice.

If I had made healthy eating choices 92% of the time and done yoga ten times, there is a dazzlingly grand chance that I would not feel the need to go back to Lansing to recharge.

Thing is, these choices don’t make themselves. It is all on me.

Being vague about goals is a sure-fire way to leave those goals unfilled. I feel silly for needing to tell myself this now.

2. Practice sleeping outside

I may be going back to Lansing, but I have no plans of sleeping indoors anytime soon. Be sure and say hi if you find a bivy in a bush somewhere.

3. Pack for comfort

After making the choice to return to Lansing, I was pissed. So much so that I did not care at all about packing neatly. In record time I crammed everything down into my backpack with no regards to rhyme or reason.

Then, I put the backpack on. And, well, it felt great on my back. Balanced. Less bulky. Way better than all those times of taking ten minutes to get everything just right.

Moral of the story? I’m not really sure. Get angry at clothing?

4. Keep moving

I have a Wii U at home. It’s the closest thing I have to a girlfriend. Now that I know I am going back to Lansing, Mario Bros. daydreams have begun in earnest.

But similarly to how it behooves me to pace myself on a thru-trek, it behooves me to pace myself with my girlfriend, er, Wii U.

Because one of the most problematic factors of my walk to Three Rivers was that my body went from zero to nine-hundred almost instantaneously. From sedentary to Superman with no transition.

So, I shall continue walking no less than ten miles a day and fortify/habituate my yoga program.

5. Don’t rely on a pilgrimage to fix me

Ever seen the film The Way?

It’s about a 500 mile pilgrimage across Spain called the Camino de Santiago.

Each pilgrim’s motivation for the trek is different.

A (self-proclaimed) fat Dutchman named Joost is out to change his eating habits and become slimmer. Then there’s Canadian chainsmoker Sarah, who is determined to leave her addiction behind on the Camino.

At the end of their journey Joost is still rotund and Sarah celebrates with a smoke.

Could it have ended any differently?

I didn’t even mention that one of these characters is a writer in desperate need of inspiration.

It’s a romantic idea, to become a better person by achieving great feats.

To exorcize demons by walking across America or Spain or wherever else.

But we don’t always get to choose how we transform, and it is even more rare (in my experience) to have any say whatsoever in the precise timing.

(I know some who would disagree with me on that point, but I can only speak from my own frame of reference)

Main point here is, I set out on this journey thinking that I would somehow magically disrupt all of my self-limiting habits and come back fully transformed.

Silly me.

Walking for experience and inspiration is realistic.

If I want to walk for healing, there are 5ks for that.

Regroup, recharge, and revolUtionize

After some rest and reflection (and maybe a little time with my “girlfriend”), I will decide my next move.

Until then, I just want to say THANK YOU for the abundance of encouragement, new connections, kind words, profound conversations and brilliant blessings that have swelled up in my life over these past couple weeks.

It all means the world to me.

You mean the world to me (if you\’re reading this, you\’re the one I am talking to).

Also published on Medium.