There will be paths through this forest and you and I will lose ourselves in the soft curves and folds of the ground. We will come to the waters edge and lie on the grass and there will be a small unobtrusive sign that says, THIS IS THE REAL WORLD, MUCHACHOS, AND WE ARE ALL IN IT. – B TRAVEN…” -Charles Bowden
As this season starts to come to an end, many of us who have been working on the trails are faced with accepting the all too familiar transition of going back to the real world, of going back to my “real life” which consists of anytime showers, reliable toilets, the familiar routine of college, people fighting and finagling to get by or to get what they want. Hiking up the now memorized, breathtaking but mostly just air-stealing, Mount Evans trail every morning I find myself thinking about how these two worlds of sorts have taken form in my life for the past year. What is the ‘real world’? The one that your high school teachers always were sure to remind you of whenever you questioned the validity of their class? Where there’s no time allowed for addressing mental health? A fancy degree. A house. A purpose. An answer? Well I’ve realized that I want to live a life where such a reality doesn’t have to be the norm, where contentment is no longer a fleeting emotion, where perfection is a silly illusion and one where I’m not waiting for an end.
My first season allowed me to grow comfortable with pooping in the woods, no cell service, and living closely with strangers I may have never met otherwise. These strangers became family, the trails, roads, and trees a growing constant. With this season I’ve been able to notice that such simplicities can actually make up a home and a life.
It’s when there’s people around a fire reading, or when there’s natural silence because everyone’s stuffing their faces with breakfast for dinner made on the camp-chef.
Dancing out in the desert barefoot or naked in the rain.
When you find a patch of the earth you’re pretty sure no one has ever stopped to breathe within before.
Living in the moment or at least giving your all until the next 15 minute snack break.
A chance to get ice-cream in town or slip away with a fresh cup of coffee in the morning.
The way that marmots run across talus: a fast waddle with a happily wagging tail.
The goats following our pee migration.
The crepuscular rays from the sunset.
Kombucha induced laughing fits.
When everyone sleeps under the stars together on the big tarp.
It’s the people. I know that Libi will spend extra money for his natural peanut butter and feels the desire to reveal a specific answer but can’t always convey in the right way. That Pio will exercise small acts of selflessness and wait until everyone else has gotten their dinner first to serve himself and have faith in my visions even if it’s rotating a rock 180 degrees and turning it upside down for the twelve time. Kathryn will always find the hidden gem raspberries and the best questions and provide amazing inspiration at unexpected moments. That Nate needs his coffee in the morning or at least a La Croix within the day and that he’s usually right about questions— when will it rain?? Rebecca will laugh at the ridiculousness in average occurrences and keep us all organized. That Devon doesn’t say anything unless it’s genuine and that when he says to flip the pancakes already just flip the **** pancakes already! Conlan will always have eggs ready in the morning and be there to help in anyway that he can; he always can. That Caleb will have a clever song romanticizing our struggles on the road and as a crew as well as his reliable little toots. And Phoenix will keep us all grounded when we need to be and cry at the good things, reminding me to mark that moment in my mind as a worthy one.
It’s carrying all we need on our backs, in Bootsy (the van), and in our minds.
It’s facing the vulnerabilities that come with changing elements in the environment but also in the storming of the crew, that’s what living outside with ten vagabonds for ten weeks straight will inevitably lead you to.
The way that you come to live with others, the way that this lifestyle allows such small things to be appreciated, and to make up your home is so much more than some will ever get to know in their city-light lives. Or at least so much more than I’ve been able to in my other life.
And I’ve found that de-rig will sneak up on us and the crew will go separate ways and fall back into easy patterns and some will try to keep in touch as they can…
Not all of us will work in this field forever and we all end up changing our minds thousands of times in our lives. But knowing that there’s been a shift in consciousness, I’ve been asking myself: why can’t I find peace and authenticity between my changing seasons? What is the “real world” when you’ve had the chance to live in one that’s so genuine and fulfilling?
So… I’m not going back to living and waiting, living and waiting, living and waiting for big transitions. No more ‘other life’. No more monkey ******* around. This is my answer Mr. Fredrick. THIS is my real world muchachos.