No longer was I having replays of incidents long past, existing solely in head, clinging to victimhood like a badge. And once I recognized what was happening, things got easier. Feel the pain. Work through it. Let. it. go. Over. Done. History.
One of my favorite hiking places is John Brown’s Tract. There are no mountains to climb here. There’s no real destination either—though there are lakes and lean-tos well worth making destinations. I’ve hiked a very seldom used trail to a wilderness lake, for example—truly a wilderness lake. The trail stops, there’s no way around it, there’s nothing by wildlife, the only way over it taken by the hawk circling the edge for prey.
The allure of John Brown’s Tract is its accessibility to wilderness. On the one hand, drive up the highway, park in one of the convenient lots, and start down the trail. Simple and easy, and it’s why it’s a popular set of trails. However, look at the map, and you’ll notice that north of this network of trails, there’s . . . nothing. No roads. No jeep trails. No paths. Literally—not even foot trails. Nothing. You are in the heart of wilderness, and proceeding into it without compass, map, and a LOT of experience is essentially suicide. No help will come, and even if help knew to come, it probably couldn’t find you, almost certainly not in time. Twist your ankle crossing a stream, and you stay there until your spirit gives up and leaves your body.
Fortunately, it’s easy enough to hike for hours into this wilderness without crossing into the untraveled and unmarked wilds. And I have done so many, many times. I especially go here when I just want to hike, and don’t care where. Often this is when I’ve got things to work out, and a long wilderness hike is just the place to do it.
Many of the notes for my “Getting Unstuck” book came from these explorations. Here’s an example. I’ve heard many people wonder, “Could I ever get past my baggage?” I know the feeling.
I was just 18 months into recovery from alcohol addiction, my head finally starting to clear, and I used the clarity to start to think ahead. In the wilderness, where the constant sound and energy of human society starts to fall away, the true reality of nature quietly shines through. I was looking for myself again.
On these walks, enjoyable as they were–I kept missing someone to be there with me. I imagined what she would be like. Or maybe that I’d meet her sitting in a lean-to. Who knows.
But how? I had just gone through horrible pain in recovery. I had fantastic hurts from past wrongs, from difficult breakups and love lost to the trauma of a partner’s betrayal. I was a wounded animal, carrying incredible hurts. I felt like witches were flying all around me, taunting me: “You’re no good! You’re damaged goods! You’re no good for anyone!” Was this my future? Was this what I had to live with for the rest of my life?
At this time, I had come across Satchel Paige’s quote, “Love like you’ve never been hurt.” I couldn’t imagine how I would do that. But I could clearly see that if I didn’t learn how, I would never have healthy relationship again. I decided on the hike finally. I would learn how. I had too.
It. was. not. easy. But it was a lesson in several things, starting with Acceptance. For Acceptance, I would have to let go of all feelings of being wronged. Resentments had to go. I had to find humility. I do not mean deciding everything that had happened was fine. I do mean letting go of the part of me that wanted to cling to it—my ego. Face it. These long festering hurts, once we get past all the justification and the righteousness, all boil down to “I can’t believe you did this to ME!” Time to get over myself. And that, certainly, was. not. easy. But it was necessary. Absolutely, bottom line necessary. If I couldn’t do that, I couldn’t heal and let go of the hurt I had packed up to drag around. I had to do it. And it took time.
But I felt so much lighter! No longer was I having replays of incidents long past, existing solely in head, clinging to victimhood like a badge. And once I recognized what was happening, things got easier. Feel the pain. Work through it. Let. it. go. Over. Done. History.
When the Holiday Season came up a few months later–which I define as Thanksgiving through Valentine’s Day–instead of dreading its return once again, I starting thinking about how to make my own new happy traditions. One of those things was to get out and meet people, just to have fun, to start to live again. And because of that–I met someone and sat having a seven hour conversation over coffee. I was in a wonderful relationship again. Magic and Romance had returned.
Oh, we broke up. Then got together. Then broke up again. And I moved on. But I had learned to love again. I was not broken. And I was not stuck.
We all need truly clear mirrors to do our inner work. For me, the John Brown’s Tract wilderness is ideal.
And we all need to love. Just keep doing it until it works. I will too.
Are you interested in hearing more about Wilderness Hikes as projects evolve in the future? Let me know here, so I have a list of those interested ready to go, by clicking here (and page all the way down to click “Sign Up” at the bottom):
Join the “Wilderness Hike” list.
If you’d like to hear about my “Getting Unstuck” book as it gets closer to release, let me know by clicking here (and you’re welcome to do *both,* of course–page all the way down to click “Sign Up” at the bottom):
Join the “Getting Unstuck” list.
October 2012 is a series of daily posts about “A Wilderness Hike,” taking readers through the healing of wilderness experience and glimpses of my work at Kwan Yin Healing and of my book, “Getting Unstuck.”
You can read the series from the start via the links here:
Oct. 1: A Wilderness Hike
Oct. 2: The Sixth Hour
Oct. 3: Snowy Mountain
Oct. 4: Letting Go of Baggage–the Wilderness Way
Oct. 5: “Bear” the Thought
Oct. 6: Mountain. Buddha. Impermanence.
Oct. 7: The Rewards of Rain
Oct. 8: Finding the Keys
Oct. 9: “I’d love to, but times are bad.”
Oct. 10: Attracting the Law of Attraction
Oct. 11: We are not our thoughts
Oct. 12: Honesty, Forgiveness, Healing
Oct. 13: Getting Unstuck: Feeling Overwhelmed
Oct. 14: Money is remarkably easy to come by, if that’s all you want.
Oct. 15: To be Time Rich, Learn to Be
Oct. 16: Changing Thoughts for Changing Work
Oct. 17: Finding and Sharing your Gifts
Oct. 18: Do you want to be the boss? Be sure you want to run the show.
Oct. 19: Finding jobs within jobs
Oct. 20: Bright Mountain Dream
Oct. 21: Escape the Wilderness of Addictions
Oct. 22: The Importance of Spiritual Direction
Oct. 23: In Search of Enlightenment
Oct. 24: Relationship Thoughts from the Wilderness
Oct. 25: We learn in realtionships
Oct. 26: Chrysalis
Oct. 27: Self-Healing, part 1
Oct. 28: Self-Healing, part 2: Time for a new perspective
Oct. 29: Dix Mountain
Oct. 30: The Mist-Filled Path
Oct. 31: From Wilderness to Wondrousness