About Me (Besides Liking Boots)

 

It has occurred to me on more than a few occasions that it might be a good thing to include others in an understanding of just what the appeal is in setting off on a long-distance walk (for me). Not to strip anyone of their romanticizations of the activity, but in truth it requires that you set off with a bare minimum of comfort items into mostly not too friendly  weather and terrain, frequently by yourself, for weeks on end, eating the very satisfying ramen and chocolate diet day after day while being deprived of any continuous 2 hour stretch of sleep because of pulsing cold and leg pain, dripping blisters, and the incessant rustling of carnivorous creatures and drunk hunters a few meters from your head. People who pass you on the inevitable miles and miles of pounding road walks are terrified of you, necessitating conversations with the children in the back seat about good grades and eating your peas.  Friends and family give up on ever having anything in common with you again, and your employability rating shuffles into line with the illegals in the parking lot when you do eventually run out of money with a spring season staring straight at you in a couple of months and a$500 tarp tent becoming life or death necessary. There has to be a driving force for this.. a damn good reason.. an actual “pleasure” derived.. And beyond my offering of “The New Nomads List of 101 Truly Compelling Reasons To Do a Long Distance Hike” , I’d like to take a sincere stab at sharing my personal motivations…

Belonging to society in the commonly embraced way requires an adherence to some systems, some of which are quite subtle and subconscious. Before you say, and I can hear you, that we ALL belong to society, that you can’t BE a human on this earth and not belong to society, and in your mind you are thinking of that college friend of yours that flails his hands in self righteousness against the evils of modern culture while using YOUR shower and wifi that you have sacrificed countless hours of your equally precious life doing a societal job you hate  in order to pay for (right?), hear my story. I love society and have no problems belonging to it. However, it has been my experience that it is very easy to die here. I had the good fortune/curse of having a midlife crisis when I was 19. I had so far accepted and excelled in the many expectations placed upon adolescent Americans. I was academically in the top ten of my class, was given coveted roles in theatre productions, won art awards, worked 20 hours a week on top of my study schedule, had the same boyfriend for all 4 years of high school and we were engaged. I didn’t drink or do drugs. I went to Jazzercise classes and knew the words to most (okay, all) Barry Manilow songs. I was model. My parents were happy. And I have to say , I was mostly happy too. Without getting into detail about the catalysts and some steps in between, it is simple enough to say, that at one point and quite abruptly, I walked out of that life, very literally. I left my apartment and all my stuff, 2 jobs, school, a decent enough man… I had $200, and no credit. Peter Gabriel’s “Melting Face” album was playing in my car stereo…

I was mostly gone for about 3 years. I would stop for periods of time and work, sometimes getting very creative with creating income, but mostly I was traveling, living outside, showering with gas station hoses, finding the weird people out there and bumming cigarettes off of them. It was a great, though insecure, time. I look back on my journals and am glad that I was not my mother. I left that life as abruptly as I entered it and with the same enthusiasm. It’s a little self-absorbed, living like that, I thought, and I was pregnant. But I left that time period with a new structure to live my life in, a base line requirement for how my life had to feel in order to be happy. I had left my respect for the domineering expectations of western culture, never to return. So how does walking as an activity factor into this life story? The absolute BIGGEST GIFT of that time period of my life was that I lived outside very frequently. I spent most of my time in wild uncultivated nature. And I very quickly came to notice how  a house becomes a cage, a city becomes a closed universe that keeps you from your essential nature, how media replaces genuine relationships, how our bodies become burdens…. We are meant to be outside and in motion. Our bodies are wired that way. We adapt, yes, to any chosen lifestyle, but it is in motion in the wilderness that I feel alive and at home. Kept too long caged and apart from it and I become surly. I wouldn’t take the leap to live outside again or completely remove myself from modern living. I think people are incredible and crave engaging them wherever they are, and however they live. I like plastic things and twinkies and electronic music and money. But walking brings me back to what is beautiful and real, like a living prayer, and something that awakens a joy in me that I can only hope sustains me in the crowded cities and aisles of Walmart .

 Posted by at 3:17 am

  12 Responses to “About Me (Besides Liking Boots)”

  1. I think this is my favorite of all your blogs so far! Wonderful –

  2. Thank you Cheryl <3

  3. “We are meant to be outside and in motion. Our bodies are wired that way.”

    Totally agree. I’m about as different from you as a person could be, but outside, in motion, whether on foot, on a bicycle or in a kayak, it all comes right. Most of the time.

  4. Bravo…Bravo!!! May your motion in the “wild and uncultivated” world find you abundant peace, happiness and most of all a unique and clear perception of your being enveloped by God!

  5. So much I never knew about you Kim, while you were here, so glad to experience this Kim too! Love your post! Blessings on your journey!!

  6. And it is a living prayer.

  7. Thank you Alba <3

  8. So inspirational and beautiful! I am severely moved.

  9. Having just gotten back from 6 wks in Spain, walking the Camino, I get it. Totally. The need to walk is so strong…and so right! Gracias for an incredible post.

  10. As I perused your blog, before about you was only boots!! A beautiful blog of who you really are. Now I understand your expectations and your feeling of life in this big wonderful world. I get it !! Although I rather ride my motorcycle feeling much what you do at a much faster pace, the wind in my face and the need to buy gas. When things do get out of hand or your anxious to sleep in a comfortable place the ride back is quicker. I love you for who you are and hope sometime to take a walk with you.

  11. It would be incredible to take a walk with you, Dad! I wouldn’t mind hopping on the back of your bike either <3 (wow you just made me cry)

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