The weight of what’s next

Ever since prematurely returning to Lansing from my thru-hike of the U.S., the heavy question on my mind has been ‘what’s next?’

But before exploring that question I want to be direct about my reasoning for heading home to regroup. Until now I’ve been a bit on the vague side, mostly out of embarrassment.

The reason is simple on the surface but has maddeningly deep roots:

I gave up.

(If I could get to the exact roots of why I give up so easily in life, I’d be my own superhero).

I wasn’t getting any sleep except when I stayed at motels or with my friends in Kalamazoo. Sleep deprivation led to mental sluggishness and general irritability. I also noticed that sleep was the only sure panacea for the toll taken of my body.

The day before I threw in the towel my dad and stepmom came to visit with me in Three Rivers, bought me lunch, and dropped me off at a laundromat before heading home.

This visit was nice, but something about it threw me off. It triggered a layer of baggage in me that pertains to insecurity about not being self-sufficient. That insecurity is an everyday issue at home, so having it activate out on the road felt a little too familiar. Made me feel sullen, which was exasperated by mental sluggishness and agitation from not getting enough sleep.

I figured a good night of rest would pull me back together, so I found a cheap motel on GPS. When I finally arrived at the location just south of central Three Rivers, there was nothing there.

You should have seen me (or not). I plopped down in the grass, totally defeated, in a large triangular median of tall grass and small trees. I threw down all my gear, and went straight for the food. As cars whizzed by on both sides I proceeded to eat everything I had. I didn’t even have any good comfort food, but didn’t care. I just ate and ate until there was nothing left.

There in that median, I grappled with myself. A familiar brawl of indecision. Giving up seemed like a super-good idea. But going back home seemed like an ultra rotten deviation.

Too sad to walk away. Too sad to stay.

I did end up in a motel that night. Slept for fifteen hours. Before going to bed, I told myself that every choice mattered, and that I needed to make choices conducive with not giving up. I made a mental list of choices I could make upon waking up, to ensure the re-establishment of momentum.

When I woke up, my attitude was a blank slate. Things could have gone either way. That right there was when my choices mattered the most. I could have salvaged the thru-hike by making conscious, focused choices to produce momentum in that direction.

I could have started my day by meditating, doing yoga, centering myself. Journaling, doing some Emotional Freedom Techniques, blogging, calling a loved one, singing a happy song. Could have cultivated mindfulness and compassion, and set positive intentions, and visualized a day of safe travels and full-on empowerment in every step.

I did not do any of those things.

I don’t even remember what I did. Was being unconscious, mindless, non-proactive. And as a result, my momentum went in the other direction. To the dark side.

(Speaking of which, did you see the new Star Wars VII trailer? OMG.)

So, I gave up, but tried not to think of it as “giving up” since I planned to apply what I’d learned and give it another shot.

Alas, depression smacked me upside the head almost immediately after returning to Lansing. Been wallowing in it up to my eyeballs for days.

And through all that wallowing, I’ve been wondering, wondering, wondering: what’s next?

I can say with 99.9% certainty that thru-hiking the U.S.A. is in the cards for me. OK, more like 100%. With a taste of the nomadic way, there’s no going back. However, that is probably not next.

Why? Well, in all my wallowing and searching for answers, another shiny thing caught my eye. A project to work on- a multimedia series called Realtime Relapse. Lots of footage exists, from my DXM relapse throughout 2015, and I feel that there may be value in sharing it. Value for me as I gain experience with video editing and presenting (and being peculiarly vulnerable), and value for you if you’re into the idea of building bridges, making connections, and developing understanding.

Maybe you know someone who seems so bright and they have so much going for them, but they do inexplicable things like quit their job and hole themselves up and act like an ass even though you know they are kind on the inside. There is a chance I can help you understand why this happens. And on a really good day maybe I can help us all figure out what to do to make the situation better.

Here’s a preview:

Trust me, I am eager to get back out there on the road. But I have some hurdles to face here first.

All in due time, and namaste.

Or as my dad and I have been saying lately: namascray (the crazy in me honors the crazy in you).

Also published on Medium.