Quite the litany of feelings on this trip, from excitement to extreme boredom to loneliness to a profound sense of belonging, wonder, frustration, creative impulses and total lethargy – and its only half done.
Being away from home erases so many of the daily demands and drives, sometimes its hard to know which way is up.
I must say my perception of time has changed drastically in the past week or two. I am very much more in the present since the only things on the horizon are so close I can almost touch them. There’s nothing on the long range, the short range is just too dense. I kind of like this. Its both liberating and provides focus. I have specific tasks, but I also have holy moments of just… nothing. Nothing to do. No apartment to clean. No car to sell. Nothing to pack for the burn. Here I am in Toronto without much of a care. Just those god-awful training classes.
This certainly is the perfect parting from corporatism I could have asked for. Nothing is so dull and terrible as sitting in an uncomfortable chair in front of a blazing computer screen and listening to banal phrases like, “Select the correct SSR code. Now press ALT-O.” There are better ways to teach and learn, its so frustrating it’d be sad if I weren’t getting ready to leave, leave it forever. I mean really, putting a GUI on top of 50 year old code doesn’t make a program “modern” or “efficient” or “user friendly” it just makes it shiny. But I digress… Any question I had as to whether or not I was ready to leave has been put to rest. I’m done. No more working for the Man. I’d rather starve thank you very much. And I work at a well respected company that treats its people well! Dear lord!
I haven’t been walking every day. Bad. But I did today. A meditation and a walk. I’d like to describe my walks a bit. They have their own unique character and purpose that helps to keep me centred. I certainly needed it today.
First of all the walk has no set destination or duration. Of course I can’t walk all day, I have some sense of how long I’m out there and what other things I need to do AFTER the walk, but I’m not a slave to the clock. Typically I walk for twenty minutes to half an hour and then get back to my day. If I don’t have anything pressing to do I might stay out longer. Its a balancing act respecting all the other things I need to do with the need for me to just step out and BE in the world.
Not having anywhere particular to go frees me as well. Destinations are poison in this sort of thing because they transform your thinking from organic to linear. Instead of wandering wherever my interest takes me instead I become a slave to the straight line, the shortest route between two points. Its tunnel vision and the whole process of walking gets lost in anticipation of the destination. So no destination is essential.
Third is cultivating what I call “Mushroom Mind” which is exactly what it sounds like, the frame of mind you’re in when you’re on mushrooms. For me this is getting in touch with my inner child and really being able to explore and play. There is nothing wrong with stopping for ten minutes to look at flowers or getting totally detoured trying to sneak up on squirrels. Similarly there’s nothing wrong with balancing on railway tracks or going down a slide on the playground. Anything goes.
I try to avoid taking the same route twice. I don’t say NEVER because that’d be a hard and fast rule and my walks aren’t governed by rules, just suggestions. I like to see and experience new things and this principle keeps me in that. Sometimes I get a bit lost as a result, other times I find great shortcuts. In the end I have a better map of the world in my head.
Climb. Jump. Crawl. Maybe its just the parkour traceur/urban explorer/builderer in me but walking isn’t the only way our bodies are designed to move. I like to pepper my walks with alternative means of locomotion.
One thing I’m not quite sure about is photography. Sometimes I bring my camera, other times I don’t. I find that I take more playful photographs on my walks and try things that I might not otherwise try. For instance today I took pictures of flowers. I never take pictures of flowers! I also took pictures of me jumping off of an abutment and wearing some sort of pipe cap on my head that I found on the street. Taking pictures this way, in a playful carefree way feels pretty good. So far taking pictures feels good, but its certainly not an essential part of the walking experience. Sometimes its just nice to have that fleeting moment and let it pass with nothing but a memory, some neurons firing and that’s it – its gone.
Today’s walk was kind of epic. I slept in late and felt pretty unmotivated overall. Training has been a drain and while going out a couple of nights to play with circus people was good it meant a serious lack of ME-time as well as a serious lack of sleep. So I bummed around the hotel for a few hours before reading a couple of inspiring blog articles and heading out.
The walk took me through a maze of overpasses, underpasses and parking lots around the airport. Really not an environment anyone’s really expected or intended to walk through – which is perfect. I walked through flowers, waved at motorists at red lights (damn Torontonian’s didn’t wave back or even smile) then plunged myself into the concrete depths and heights of the roads. I played with debris I found on the side of the road and generally zig zagged this way and that, wondering when airport security would come and tell me I wasn’t allowed to take pictures of ANYTHING – but they never did.
Eventually I ended up at an abandoned hotel that I knew about from fellow urban explorers and decided – what the heck. Walked the perimeter, didn’t see any activity and jumped the fence. Maybe I stayed an hour – not entirely sure. I had a couple of adrenalin rushes, the sound of dripping water from all the rain making strange noises and another time when it looked as though the security guard on site might have seen me. I took plenty of photographs, saw wonderful sights, skipped through shallow water, ducked through holes and generally had a fantastic time until getting a bit too close to the aforementioned security guard.
I left, grabbed an iced tea from a gas station (they always seem confused when you walk in rather than drive in) and returned to the hotel.
So by the standards of my daily walks it was a bit epic. I didn’t plan to do any urban exploring, but then I never plan to do anything in particular on my walks – I just see where they go. Today it just happened to be the Regis Constellation.
So that’s walking.
So much in my mind these days, but interestingly enough it isn’t overwhelming. I feel a great sense of calm. I’m finally able to admit to myself that I can’t do everything – and that’s fine. I pick what’s most important and focus on that. Thing will work out because there’s no other way they could go. I feel so much more in control of my life now. Its amazing. I feel more conscious than I have in years. Its like waking up from a long, long dream.
More to come. Much more.