Pointing Myself in a Direction

I reconnected with my once-upon-a-time Yoga teacher the other day. She happened to “like” one of my twitter posts, and I was so pleased to see her name after all these years, that I immediately wrote her a message, and we’ve been “talking.”

I loved her Yoga classes and her philosophy. She was the one who taught me to use my whole sphere. She said we live in a personal sphere, the space taken up by outspread arms and legs. As we age and become more fearful of missteps, we shrink into the center of our spheres, shortening our stride, hunching into ourselves. Ever since, I have striven to open myself not just to my physical sphere, but also beyond what I can encompass.

I was devastated (devastated for myself, not for her) when she left to accept a fabulous job offer. It worked out, in a way, because I went searching for something else to do to give me a respite from looking out for my father, and I found dancing. (This was one of those very rare cases of one door closing and another opening, though I truly hate that platitude. After Jeff died, people frequently said, “When a door closes, a window opens,” but who uses a window in place of a door? And anyway, what good is a window or even a door to a widow who has lost her foundation?)

In one of the recent messages to my erstwhile Yoga instructor, I mentioned my idea of eventually doing some sort of epic hike, and she responded: “Baby steps everyday towards your goal will help you accomplish your dream. We have a Bucket List of walking The Camino de Santiago-we’ve begun working on it-It’s years ahead. Just point yourself in that direction & start!”

So, baby steps.

The first step is to get well. I caught the cold that’s been going around, and I’m stuck inside for the duration. (It’s interesting how the idea of an epic adventure always rears its head when I am housebound. Well, perhaps not interesting. But understandable.)

The second step is to continue working to get my hand/arm/wrist/elbow in as good a shape as possible.

The third step is to . . . well, one and two should be sufficient for now.

I am beginning to see, though, that an epic hike for me would be years in the future, which is one of the things that makes it an impossible dream — by the time I am ready, it’s possible I would be too decrepit or too broke. But it is a direction in which to point myself, and that has been the problem these years after Jeff’s death — I’ve had no direction.

I might be driving up the coast to Seattle in May, which would be a good time for a reconnoitering trip. I am also collecting lists of hikes that are less ambitious than the iconic national trails and that might possibly be good starter long hikes. I just added the Pinhoti Trail to the list. I am sure there are hundreds of trails that would be perfect for a few weeks or even a few days. Or even one night. (If I’m going to do baby steps, a one nighter would be the first trip!)

It’s possible what I like is the impossible dream and that backpacking is more of an ideal than something I ever want to do. (My father had such a dream — for as long as I can remember, he talked about walking the coast of Portugal. I don’t know when he finally gave up on the idea, or when it gave up on him.) And yet I have enjoyed every one of the day hikes I have ever taken, and enjoyed every night I spent camping.

Step three, now that I think of it, should be to get over the idea of chucking it all and just heading out. Considering the dismal state of my finances, it seems silly to pay rent when I am elsewhere, but for now, it would probably be best to have a base. And anyway, there would be the problem of what to do with my car if I were on the trail for months.

So, baby steps all the way.

I do like the idea of doing something every day to prepare, even if it’s only research. (Only research? From what I’ve been able to gather from the research I have already done is that research is one of the most important things a beginner backpacker can do.)

But for now, I’ll point myself in the direction of a nap.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram 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.