Other than a two-week trip to Portland in October, we’ve been parked in our hometown of Ashland since mid-September. Our original plan was to head south by the end of October, wending our way leisurely across the country, and ending up in Florida for the winter. But life doesn’t always go as planned, and we have things we need to attend to before we can leave. At this point, it looks like we’re going to be here until sometime in January.
We love Ashland. In all of our travels, we’ve yet to find a place that we would rather call home. And we dearly love our friends. When we’re here in Ashland, life returns almost to our pre-full-time-traveling “normal,” and we share wonderful dinner parties, music jams, creative art projects, and outdoor adventures with friends. This is home, in the deepest sense of community.
I love being here, and at the same time, I feel out of place. I’m deeply grateful to our friends who welcome us home, and who create a place for us to stay when we’re here. But this isn’t what we had planned, and it’s knocked me off course. Winter is nipping at the heels of fall, with the gray and chill and rain that is typical for November in Ashland. We’re home, but we’re not home—we’re in our small trailer, instead of in our cozy house on the hill with a fireplace and plenty of space for entertaining.
I feel stuck, and the mud that I’m slogging through on the trails is a metaphor for the spiritual mud that I’m slogging through as I try to motivate myself to get things done. We’re getting out for long walks every day, we’ve recommitted to a daily meditation practice, I’m working on my music. I have a blog to catch up on. We have plenty to keep ourselves occupied, some things more fun than others.
Our plan was never to travel fulltime forever, but we’re not done yet, not by a long shot. (I check in with Eric, and he feels the same.) Maybe that’s why I feel like I’m adrift between two worlds. It calls on every glimmer of awareness I can muster to be here, now, knowing that we’ll be leaving again before too much longer.
Wherever I am, I want to be fully present. Truthfully, it’s effortless when we’re traveling. When every day brings fresh adventures, it’s easy to be present and appreciative. Simply being in a new place, I feel energized and happy. But it’s much more challenging for me to be present on a trail that I’ve hiked in Ashland thousands of times (I’m not exaggerating—I’ve done the math).
And so I’m practicing—yet again—opening my eyes to what surrounds me in the present moment. Traversing the path in the park that I’ve walked almost daily for 18 years, I turn my attention to the sounds of the creek, the birdsong, and the rhythm of my breath. I watch the leaves as they turn to gold and then fall from the trees. It brings me back to the present moment, which is where I want to be. Even if I can only manage that for a brief instant, it’s something.
We’ll be leaving again before we know it. I don’t want to miss any of our time here in Ashland by worrying about the present and all that we need to do, or planning for the future. I just want to be here, now, grateful for this moment, for our friends, for this beautiful place that is still our home. When I can manage to stay in the present moment, I never feel lost.