27 May, 2009

Reflection Point - Two Weeks

Exactly two weeks ago today, Andy and I boarded a plane to Atlanta in a state of excited uncertainty. Although I didn't know exactly what to expect, I tried to prepare myself for the possibilities. Now, we have completed a significant portion of our journey and I find myself at an interesting crossroads. In many ways I have adapted to the demands of this excursion, in other ways not so much. We have also collectively adapted, slowly but surely discovering better and more efficient ways to do things. In a way time seems to fly, yet it is also simultaneously dragging.

I get exhausted just thinking about all we've done and how far we've come; fourteen states in fourteen days. We marveled at the beauty of the Painted Desert, hiked our way through 6 miles of treacherous terrain in the Grand Canyon, saw a plethora of wildlife and natural wonders in Zion, and spent three days taking in the scenery of Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. I think the sheer incredibility of it all is one of things helping me hold it together.

It wasn't until a few days ago when the first wave of frustration and helplessness came over me. We have discussed several times now the fact that this isn't a vacation, it's a trip. This isn't about relaxing or leisurely taking in the sights and sounds of America - it's about experiencing America. In spirit and in action I am one hundred percent on board with this, but the daily processes required to maintain and progress are taking a toll. For instance, performing normal daily activities like cooking, eating, cleaning, showering, and dressing among others are so decentralized each becomes a monumental task in and of itself. When you're never in any one place for more than a day or two you lack a sense of establishment. Time is a factor so the minute you wake you are rolling up your sleeping bag, collecting your things, packing your bag, organizing the car, figuring out what to do and where to go. It's difficult to find a moment to collect yourself, gather your thoughts,and simply take a step back to appreciate.

The amusing part is that things that would have struck me as intolerable in the beginning are not only trivial but easily endurable and expected. For instance, not showering for a day or two can be dealt with, sharing the bathroom with a few species of insect is commonplace, eating off of dishes still crusted with remnants of the previous meal is inconsequential, and wearing clothes that are technically dirty is both necessary and economical. Although I have struggled to repress a few episodes of disillusionment, at this point it only takes me a few minutes or a good nights rest to rationalize. The magnitude and awesomeness of this experience outweighs any drawbacks, and when it does come to an end, I don't want to look back and regret instances where the potential for enjoyment was suppressed by less desirable emotions.

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