The epiphany I mentioned in the title has nothing to do with the three kings, though, considering what day this is, I won’t rule out the possibility that this particular epiphany is a gift from the magi — the insight had to have come from somewhere.
This morning, after I stretched, I put on my two-pound belly pack and shrugged into my fifteen-pound backpack, grabbed my trekking poles and went out for a trudge. Actually, I am getting used to the weight a bit, so it’s more of a slow walk now than simply a plod.
My normal three-mile route goes up the road to the desert about a mile away, a mile turnaround in the desert, and a return down a parallel street on one of the few sidewalks in the area. Today, I spent a few extra minutes in the desert, enjoying being out in the open, enjoying the very thought of being away from civilization if only for a few minutes.
On the walk back, I marveled that I seem to be in the perfect place to train for some sort of extended backpacking trip. Proximity to nature. Winter weather conducive to walking. The right gear and clothing.
And then the epiphany hit me — maybe I really am supposed to do this. “This” meaning my impossible dream of an epic backpacking trek
At lunch with friends a week or so ago, we talked about our lives and the future. They have houses, responsibilities, family. And me — all I have is this dream. They couldn’t understand why I would even want to go camping, let alone backpacking, and I couldn’t explain the pull of the quest. I’m not athletic at all — spent too many years lounging around reading to be really fit. I’m not an outdoorsy sort of person — except for walking, of course. I certainly have no lifelong love of camping — until recently, I’ve always been too much of a comfort seeker to easily embrace the discomforts inherent in a camping trip.
And yet . . . and yet . . .
The quest is not — obviously — a quest for discomfort, though in a way it is. It is in stretching our boundaries, in embracing discomfort, in reaching for the unreachable that we see the truth of ourselves, learn how we connect to the world around us, understand that we are nature, that nature is us. If we could see the world and us as energy or a quantum state, we would see that there is no real separation between us and our surroundings. I understand this, but I would like to feel it — to be alone, just me and the world, to go past what is comfortable or convenient to whatever is beyond the ordinary. A spiritual quest, in other words.
Yoda (what or whoever that might be) said, “Do or do not. There is no try.” I’m wondering if the opposite is true. “Try or not try. There is no do.” It could be that in my case, the trying is the doing. Or the doing is in the trying.
There is a good chance that this trying — this training — is the quest. (Wait! Is that another epiphany?)
After Jeff died, I thought my move away from our home of two decades would be the start of a life change — a real journey. But it turned out the drive to my father’s house was simply a trip — the journey had been in all the changes I’d undergone before taking the trip.
I wonder if this quest is the same sort of thing — that if I am ever able to do some sort of long backpacking trip, it might simply be another walk, that the quest is in all this preparation.
Should be interesting to find out.
Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Unfinished, Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.