As I am scurrying in and out, trying to get the last few items packed into my nearly overfilled Jetta, the two women who live upstairs greet me at my door. One holds a pan of blueberry muffins. We chat briefly, for the first time, in the six months I’ve lived in this apartment. I express that I’m leaving and they seem to be sorry to see me go. The lady on the right offers me a blueberry muffin. I take it and we say goodbye.
I make my way onto the highway and the whirlwind begins. Being in transition incites a feeling of edgy adventure. I don’t know where my next “semi-permanent” (3 months or more) spot will be, but on this Thursday afternoon I have one of my dearest friends waiting for me in Asheville, North Carolina, and another two on the way the coming Saturday, and so begins the excited anticipation of the next few days and weeks to come.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the who’s, what’s and when’s, but I try to keep my partner’s advice in the back of my mind. Take it one day at a time. I try to slow it down even further, one moment at a time. Things will progress as they should. Remembering this keeps that overwhelmed feeling at bay.
The nomad life
Relocating, especially when intending to continue traveling, can be nerve wracking and unsettling. Having friends and family greet you in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, where a bounty of excursions await, definitely eases the transition. The days since my departure from Charlottesville have been plentiful with outdoor adventures, engaging conversations, and some of WNC’s most outstanding craft beer. I’ve had moments of melancholy reflection on leaving Charlottesville and those I became close with, but I know I’ll see them again, and will continue providing support for certain efforts there. Charlottesville, and Virginia in general, will always have a special place in my heart, and because of that I know I’ll be back so the ache isn't too deep.
Leaving a fun little mountain city and transitioning to a slightly larger one has both bittersweet and thrilling moments, but the greatest challenge to me has been adjusting to navigating the journey in a somewhat solo capacity. The opportunities are endless, but without the other half of my heart attached to my hip, the limitlessness lacks a special energy to which I must adjust. That’s where friends come in, and I am so lucky that the timing worked as perfectly as it did. I might have been lost without that week of close friends surrounding me with laughs, dancing, music, games, time-warps, and most importantly, love, encouragement and support.
Time to grow
The excitement and change abounds with opportunity to grow and transform. I was a bit stumped for a while about how to articulate my experiences during this transition so far until today. I was lucky to find a somewhat impromptu hiking partner, a family friend, Lex, who wasn’t originally committed to the excursion, but was convinced by Jemima at the Laurel River Store when we decided to get some coffee this morning. Whilst hiking along the Laurel River he noticed that I continually look down at my feet. Ryan always tells me this as well. I am not confident in my step, I’m afraid I’ll trip over a rock, because I’m clumsy, and fall.
“Don’t look down all the time. You have to look up and around. Focus your eyes on different points at different distances. Otherwise you don’t get the full experience. If you focus only on these four feet below you, that distance is all your eyes will be accustomed to looking at, and you might miss some awesome rock formation or gnarly tree.”
That is exactly the message I needed to hear at that time. I realized that my focus was on an expectation of something happening, me falling, and thus I wasn’t able to truly enjoy the experience for what it is. As I mentally practiced the Small Act of noticing where I was looking, and if looking down, then choosing to look ahead and around, I was greeted by the winding rushing river, trees growing out of boulders, wild turkeys flying over head. The magnificence of our planet is truly beyond words or images. It was a simple reminder to root myself in the present moment and let the path unfold in front of me. My experience was immediately better.
Life speaks to us in interesting and wonderful ways. The simplest and most unexpected messages can completely break a negative mental attitude when you’re open to listening. I often put my guard up when I hear something that I don’t necessarily agree with, but that’s another Small Act I’ve been trying to practice; being open to what others have to say, and trying to mindfully listen, rather than judge or proclaim the absolute truth of my own convictions. That’s definitely a tricky one for me. So far the results have been positive and have actually helped me in times where I’m a little perplexed or anxious, as was today's lesson.
The “look up” message resonated with me as well because it’s a reminder to be easy on myself. If something comes up, I can remember to go with the flow, and “adjust” as necessary. My stride doesn’t have to be perfect, a couple bumps are okay. A few down days doesn’t mean the end of the world, and eventually, I’ll bounce back.