Today was the day I intended to post my gear list … and invite all trail veterans and anyone really to comment, criticize, drool over, or slash mercilessly at the various tools and luxuries I am acquiring for life out in the wilderness. It can’t all come. I need help making these decisions. But when I went to prepare my defense as to why my silk sleeping bag liner is more important than trekking poles, and why a book to write in is more important than extra water filters, I discovered my heart was not yet into creating this discussion.
I want to share with you a Burning Man story. Not an everybody’s Burning Man story which always includes the phrases “oh my god there was fire shooting out of the” and ” this person I’ve never even met “, but a story that actually occurred after the blessed week at Burning Man, on the way home. After the temple burned, my friend and I made the inspired decision to avoid the Monday post-burn emotionalism, break camp, and leave for home that very night. We were tired but we could take turns driving and honestly, in Nevada you could put the car on cruise control and fall asleep and you would run out of gas before you hit anything. I felt confident we could safely go. Sometime near 4 or 5 in the morning, and at least 90 miles from even a gesture of a town, I saw a figure up ahead walking on the tiny little state road we were on. Now I think life is psychoactivating enough without having to chemically exaggerate it, but I didn’t used to think that, so I woke up my sleeping friend to make sure the person was really there.
“Hey Sim, wake up.”
“Need me to drive?”
“Oh it’s beautiful ,wow, oh the sun is rising .. ”
“No look.. there… Do you see that?”
“What.. what .. Is someone on the road?”
“I think so .. look.”
He was really there. We were getting closer and the man was pushing something.
“We should stop. We’re in the middle of nowhere! Has he been walking all night? Sim what do you think?”
“Let’s pass him first and feel it out.”
As we got closer, it was plain to see that the man was pushing a shopping cart up the road in the opposite direction that we were going. We just came from there and knew there was NOTHING in that direction for a really long time. We could not figure out where he would be headed, but we definitely didn’t want to give him a ride in that direction.
“He’s pushing an empty shopping cart. No wait, there’s a piece of cardboard with some writing in it.”
“That’s it??What does it say?”
Simeon hadn’t found his glasses yet. He wasn’t trying to actually.
” wait .. ” We slowly passed him, looking for some kind of indication of his state and what we should do.
“What does it say?”
“It says . .. ‘ LOVE LIFE’. ”
I was stunned into a state I still could not describe. It hit me so hard that I began to cry. It was the most beautiful image I have ever seen in my life and burned itself deeply into my being. Here is a man, walking by himself out in the Nevada desert, pushing a shopping cart bearing nothing but a cardboard sign with the words “LOVE LIFE” painted on it. What else is there to say really?
I do love life .. am deeply in love actually …with nature, and the Divine, and culture, and you .. as if there is any real distinction between these things…. And what my point is, my point in being here, my point in doing anything I do, including this trail, is to turn as many people as possible on to that love of living.. share and inspire it…
So how is isolating myself out in the wilderness for 7 weeks sharing the love you ask? Well, while it’s self-indulgent experience for sure … pure narcissistic self-fulfillment…. I am deeply hoping when I come back, you will see that fire in my eyes and feel my serene bubbliness … That I can tell you about the different colors in the vertical cliff wall and that cool person that strapped a chocolate bar to my water cache… And you’ll relate to the joy of that for a minute or so.. And that will be worth everything…
45 Ripping Days until Trail Life