I did it!

I  am so happy and thrilled and on this strange high. I was within minutes of my parents house when I clapped and started to squeal while still in the car. I was so excited that I could not hide it. Not for a moment longer!

I left Florida camp #2 early in the morning, muggy and getting warm as the sun came up. My stuff was a little damp from the wet in the air. I went to bed early, see more on that in my post about being south for the winter. Early to bed, early to rise is real, folks. I was out of camp by 8:00. I was happy to leave the loud and annoying people of camp, but really did love the hiking and kayaking and biking. Cheers Salt Springs!

I chose to take more backroads on my way south. I enjoyed loads of scenery and new sights. Sometimes I just cannot stand the billboards and cars and the blur of landscape as it whizes by. I could tell the topography of Florida was changing as the miles passed. The closer I got to the Gulf of Mexico, the more traffic and housing developments and people and strip malls started to replace orange groves, palm trees, grazing cattle and sandy dirt roads. Less nature and more nonsense. Argh. 

Admittedly, this set of parents live as stereotypical older folks in Florida do. They have and need an urban area with quick and easy access to medical care, pharmacy, food, social opportunities and so on. Unfortunately, their location also includes a mass of tourists and people. At this stage of their life, they need these services close and I get it. They are lucky to live on the beach, a bonus and sufficient escape from the chaos below. It is a trade off. 

I hit the bridge to the island on which they live and saw the gulf. It was the familiar sights of their little town, the marina and bars and shops. I was here! I was actually here, in my car, on my journey, and hit my target destination. I made it. I FUCKING DID IT!!! I traveled about 14,000 miles, 16 states, over six months. So many sights, so may different places and people and challenges and joys and delights. I hit the midpoint of my goal, the farthest place I planned to visit. Me and my trusted Jeep and my stuff are actually here, on the Gulf of Mexico, at my parents house. To be exact, I am 2979 miles as the crow flies from the place I used to call home. That is nearly 3000 miles door to door. Holy shit. HOLY SHIT!! HOLY! SHIT!!

I am not sure why this particular milestone has hit me this hard. But, I am bowled over, proud as hell, and high with delight. I feel accomplished, excited, joyous, and thrilled. I set this huge life goal, I arranged everything to make this happen. This is happening and has been happening and I am hitting these benchmarks. That is an amazing feeling to me. Just amazing, and that word does not even to capture the depth of this feeling. I have set and met goals before. That is not new. This goal, this milestone, this accomplishment, being here, having arrived, bowls me over. I am overwhelmed. I am humbled. I am walking on the clouds. 

I cannot wipe the smile off my face. I cannot seem to settle down. I am still in awe of what I get to do, the gift of this life I have received. I am grateful to so many people in so many ways. The mechanics and the hosts, my friends and extended family, my cheerleaders and blog readers, to my parents and siblings and my church community. To the friendly faces and the amazing places I have been and seen, to the discounted beer tray and the free left-over scone. I thank each and every person, place and thing that is or has or will open the doors, pave the way, contribute in whatever way has made or will continue to make this pilgrimage the best time of my life. I carry with me every positive thought, vibe, prayer or kind word. I stand on the love and support of so many. I am here because of them. I am here and I fucking did it. I DID it!!

In deep and excited and humbling gratitude. Cheers!!!

Interesting and Infuriating

I hear music, some fucking kid barking like a dog, people talking, fires crackling, some other kid screaming. I smell wood smoke, pot smoke, diesel fuel, and the leaves of a cool breeze. I see lights and fires and tiki torches and headlights and the moon and some reflective bulllshit from somewhere. I am amidst ultimate chaos and yet a most interesting display of the human condition. I am drinking so that I do not lose my mind, or my shit, amidst this outdoor, yet oh so urban, experience. Just one cocktail to take the edge off this insanity. Fuck me running this is not my experience. THIS is not what I signed up for. And yet… 

I chose this campground. I did this on purpose. I spent the extra money so that I would be able to bike and hike and not drive anywhere. This is all of my own doing. In fact, I even pimped out part of my site to some poor slob who did not plan well. I was at the right place at the right time and I nearly covered one night of camping. WTF ever. My gain and your lucky break. It covered my great lunch from a local farm stand. Though they never even came over to thank me in person. Not one word. Strange. 

Let’s start with my being here in the first place. I am here because I cannot stand, not for one fucking moment, the thought of being stuck at camp with nowhere to go and nothing to do. I wanted to park the Jeep and explore by foot or by bike and not drive. No days in the car. To that end, I am not disappointed. I hiked just over 9 miles today, mostly in solitude. I got in some biking miles upon arrival. I had a great lunch from a local food truck place and basically had a blast. I do not want to talk about the bugs. The spider that could traverse a tennis ball and the crawling bug that looks like a magic marker. Nope, we are not talking about those things. 

We are, however, talking about the peace and solitude of a jungle hike completely alone and time spent with only the sounds of the palm fronds blowing in the wind. Sure, there were snakes and spiders and crap I thankfully never saw. But, there was peace and solitude and just me and the trail. It was, however, a trail I was not familiar with. A trail with foliage I did not recognize and bugs I was not OK with, and so much more. Michelle, you are NOT in the PNW anymore!

Now I sit here at camp and still this fucking kid barks and the moon is nearly full and the music continues. Oh, did I tell you about the kid in the bathroom? So, here I am in the stall taking my glorious morning constitutional. This little kid, clearly without parental supervision, peeks his head under the stall and says, “I see you!”. I say back, “I prefer you didn’t”. Then I laugh. I mean, this kid does not know any better and so what, he sees me on the shitter. Soon after, his Mom comes in and does not even speak to what just happened. She gathers him up and then takes him away. Look, sister, at this point, it is best to just speak to what happened. I mean, he is just a kid  and I am just on the toilet. Get over it, yet at least apologize. Strange. 

Ends up, later, when some guy was looking for his kid who wandered off, me and this woman had a little chat whilst in the same bathroom and she knew the kid who poked his head under and talked to me. His Mom was beyond embarrassed. Well, WTF you gunna do? Just call the thing a thing and move along. I get it, I have a kid, I know what goes on. The little boy was 3 for crying out loud. But, please do not carry on like it never happened.

These people in Florida are different then my people to the West. At least in the West we talk about it. We make contact and say HELLO and come to a sense of being with each other. Nope. Not these folks. They carry on like they are the only people in the Universe and they never even bother to greet you or acknowledge your presence. They walk in your camp and play in your area and act like this is all OK. No recognition, no chat, no eye contact. Nothing. Fuck them. Fuck their ignoring the obvious. Good thing my RBF is still alive and well and they mostly steer clear of me and my things. Better that way. 

Gone are my days of peace and solitude. Gone are my times of quiet and the sounds of nature while at camp. Here are the times of trails and hikes and biking and, tomorrow, a rented kayak on the pond. I did enjoy sitting at camp with only the light of the moon. I listened and watched. The moon was so bright it left shadows on the roof of the tent. I enjoyed that. 

Dear God and the Universe, I will try to just roll with it and not be a bitch about the noise and the chaos and the bullshit in my midst. I will not, however, change my face. I will retain my RBF so, with just one glance, these idiots are reminded to stay the fuck away from my site and my belongings and my food and me. That is what I have to offer. 

Amen and Blessings all around. 

PS – the hordes of people have left. I am mostly alone at camp again. I had an amazing day of kayaking, sore muscles and all. I am tired and rested and happy to be here. Tonight I will have a fire to celebrate. Cheers to getting over the hump of humanity. Cheers!

South for the Winter

By this time in my journey I have learned that each of these easterly and southerly states has a great welcome center along the interstate. No, not the ones you have to drive to. These are just over the borders. Once you hit the new state from the freeway, there is a legit visitor center to that new state. This is the place where I get my new and free maps, as well as some local information, a potty break and a little walking around. I appreciate and relish in the services offered.

I hit Florida and was immediately disgusted. I made my now routine stop at the rest stop/tourist center only to find my senses overwhelmed with crap about Disney, coupons for tourist attractions, shit to do in Orlando, and just about every flyer from every bullshit tourist attraction Florida has to offer. I nearly puked with all the commercialism. Yikes, I hope this is not it. I hope this is not all I can find. I hope there is more than tourism during this winter in the south. 

I want the historic parts. I want to experience the Florida of years gone by, of the indigenous inhabitants, of the settlers, of the folks who were here before here was even a place. Fuck Disney and fuck the commercial coupons to the bullshit. I want to see the farms and the orchards, if there are any left, and the sugar cane and the oranges. I want to see who and what really makes this place a place. Salt of the earth and all of that. 

I stopped in an historic museum to ask for guidance. Like, get me off this ride! I want to see the backroads of this Florida place. I got information from a three toothed-wonder of a man who wished he knew more as he struggled to get his iPad to work. He was a great help. 

Now, here I am, the first week of November coming to a close. I am riding around on my bike in shorts and a tank top. It was not two weeks ago I woke to ice at camp in the Smoky Mountains. So strange all these changes as I move on my merry way. This is very foreign and I am not sure how or if I will completely adjust. You see, it is also about 6:30 pm. It is totally dark and I am outside. I got 12 hours of daylight today. I am waking up earlier, but I can in no way get to bed at the hour it becomes dark. This time and this weather are its own special challenge to me. 

Here is where I am getting confused. Living up North, I know how to deal with barely 8 hours of daylight. I bake and go to the gym and shovel snow. I light a fire in the fireplace, use my twinkle lights, sit with a blanket, light a candle and watch a movie while eating popcorn and having beer. Perhaps I meet friends after work and then walk home, in the dark. I do have reflective coats and jackets for these times, just to make sure I am seen. I get out all my winter clothes that I have not seen for a year. Like a visit with old friends. Do they fit? Do I still like them? Did they survive summer storage? I would take the time to play in my closet and assess any changes that may need to happen. 

I would have completed all of my canning, so my shelves are stocked. I would be planning for the Holiday’s and contemplating where to go over winter break. I would be inside. Not this year. Right now, as I type, I am sweating bullets in the hot and humid forest of North Florida. There are bugs all over and a myriad of birds and frogs and who knows what else making noise. I had to change out of my sandals due to the ants and the sand and the overall risk of something biting me. There is not one hint of a breeze anywhere. In fact, the air is quite stifling. 

There is a chance of rain, so I have the rainfly deployed. My nights in Georgia had no rain in the forecast, so I did not put on the fly. I guess you could say I slept naked. LOL Not me, but the tent. There is rain predicted tonight and I will take no chances. But, this dark! What will I do with this time? This time in the dark outside?

It seems everything I knew or know about the out of doors has changed with this climate and landscape. It seems everything I thought I knew about winter has been put on its head, too. I was reading a paperback book, but then it got too dark. I saved some emails until dark so that I had something to do. I can see this will be a challenge for the next couple of months. 

Perhaps it is time to seek out some twinkle lights for the tent. I will refrain from any scents, as my animal management procedures tell me to keep aromatics out of the tent. Perhaps more investment in firewood. Is it crazy that I am actually yawning already? Sweating in my underwear? Then again, it is dark. This is confusing, now, isn’t it? 

I see my friends all commenting on my Facebook posts about how they have snow and cold, while I have sun and hot temperatures. Bear in mind that I am not, I repeat, NOT set up for winter camping. I was intentional in that and do not have room for all that would entail. I am prepared for the temps to drop into the 30’s, which they did and have. I am not prepared to live in the 40’s or lower for extended periods. I am not prepared for days and days of rain. Well, I am, but I do not like it. No thanks to that. 

I have to give this new thing time, but so far, I do not like the humidity. I never have and, apparently, that has not changed. It is nice to be able to walk around outside in just street clothes, ride my bike, and not worry about winter storms. But, all my stuff feels wet and the air is stagnant and still. It is dark at dinner time and yet warm out I do not know what to do. A new set of challenges is upon me. Living in the South for the winter for the first time in my life. What to do, what to do. Living outside with daylight limitations. What to do, what to do. 

Cheers to the twists and turns that make a life. 

Six Month Update #2

I have posted a lot about the details of my experiences. I have also provided updates on how I feel living on the road, my challenges and my joys. This post is another update to recognize six months on the road. I have not been outside for six months, as I have combined volunteer work that was place bound, house sitting, friend and family stays. However, over half of my time is living outside, camping, traveling, and exploring. 

I am still looking for community and connection with like-minded folks, women who live similar to how I live, or other sorts of folks with whom I can connect. I have met people and have mini-connections “out here” all the time. I also recognize that there are inherent challenges to finding community while living on the road. I continue to try different groups and meet people in virtual environments with the hopes that I will one day connect in a more meaningful and sustainable way. Then again, I am doing just fine on my own. For me, it is a balance. 

Here is my list, my recap, my take on my reality. This is my life and my experience. Others may have, live, or exist differently. I welcome and invite their stories, too. I am happy, healthy and having the time of my life. Cheers!

I can:

Get up when I want, Sleep when I want, Go where I want, Choose my day while in that day, Eat what and when I want, Hike when I want, Change my mind about what I am doing or where I am going.

I can’t:

Cook when it’s raining, Get warm, sometimes, Cool off, sometimes, Always get a shower, Always use my electronics, Believe I actually get to do this!

I don’t:

Have unlimited electricity, Have a couch, Go to work, Hate my life, Have a TV, Like windy camp spots, Worry if my clothes are in fashion, Have unlimited financial resources , Always know what is happening in the larger world, Answer to anyone unless I choose to, Feel angst or discontent.

I do:

Visit amazing places, Experience nature first hand, Spend time with loved ones, Drive a lot, Love a hot and unlimited shower, Have a lot of good gear that serves me well, Love my life, ,Love visiting the local library for power and comfort, Sometimes smell, Watch movies or read when it is raining.

In short, I have no regrets, much joy, and an emotional peace I have never had before. This rocks and I look forward to the next six or nine or twelve months of my journey.

Cheers to freedom and happiness!

Six Month Update #1

Here I sit. At camp in the Smoky Mountains. Well, they all call them the GREAT Smoky Mountains. I guess it is all about perspective. 

I hit my six month mark. I cannot believe that much time, and yet so little time, has even passed. In fact, I have very little sense of time these days. I mean, the sun rises and sets and stuff happens in between. It is then dark for an increasing number of hours, and I read and sleep and play with my campfire if I have one. Time is not something I can put my finger on. 

I truly have no words for what this is like. I am over the moon, sated and complete in a way I never thought possible. I am one with the Universe and have an inner calm, and yet I still swear at drivers who go way below the fucking speed limit. I meet people every day and I feel times of alone and times of loneliness. I have traveled thousands, literally, of miles and yet I feel right at home. Sometimes I am not even sure where I am, and yet, the Jeep and my gear tell me I am home. 

I am in awe of this process and of the gifts I receive every day. The fact that I am even writing this while on this pilgrimage astounds me. I do not mean to brag or sound like I am living some life nobody else can. In fact, quite the opposite. Oh contrare mon frare. It was and is WAY easier than it should or could have been. It feels so natural and so right. I feel like I am home nearly all the time. Even when I am not sure what fucking time it is or what fucking state I am in, I am still and somehow home. 

I feel like the luckiest person in the world to be doing and living in the exact way I want. I mean, this is IT for me. This is the fantasy I always had. This brings to life that which I thought never possible. Sure, it is costing me money. I am nearly though my “sell my shit” money. But, that is why I sold my shit. In fact, more shit is made and sold and for sale each and every day. There is so much shit in this world. Walk into a Walmart and you will see the amounts we can have on a daily basis. That is not even the shit that is being bought and sold second hand. There is an endless supply of shit and I will not go without when I leave this vagabond life.

People often ask me, “Where is your favorite place?”, or “What have you liked the best?” How do I even answer those questions. I have been on the ocean, on the river, in the desert. I have been in the mountains and the plains and the rainforest and the grasslands. I have been in the north and the south. It has been cold and hot and in the wind and still and loud and quiet as hell. I have been amongst a gazillion people and then been completely and totally alone. I have been amongst friends and been amongst the trees. Each place, each way to be, is it’s own unique experience that I cannot even compare to the others. I cannot even begin to separate one from the other from the next. They are all so special in their own right. They are all so individual and have their own challenges and gifts and lessons. I cannot compare them. I can accept each for the special offerings it has and the lessons it teaches me. 

I still hate the wind and the really cold. I can do it and survive, but I do not like it. I am not a fan of bugs and I really hate to think about how many I have ingested or slept with or who may be just waiting for me in my sandal. I do not like the heat or the humidity. Again, I do it and I survive. I take it as it comes and, pilgrim, if you do not love it, move on. 

What I do love is each and every day that I live this life. I love that I can feel the earth and the sky and the weather. I can smell and taste and breathe in the very forces that make our planet a world. I live with the creatures who have been around since time immemorial. I have seen a billion stars and heard a torrential rain. I have felt the thunder down to my bones and delighted in the glory of a radiant sunrise. I am here doing this thing and it is beyond words. 

I am full and sated and complete and joyous. I meet new and different people most days and we connect and chat and we share just for those moments. I am still out here, currently typing in the dark in the shadow of the Smoky Mountains. My fire is dying, as I am busy writing. It is warm and humid and loud with the sounds of nature. I can only smile. 

I am humbled and grateful and joyous to be here doing this thing in this place at this time. I carry with my the family and friends I have seen so far, and those that continue to give me support and motivation. I am fit and healthy and sassy and confident. I am more ME than ever. I feel like I have arrived. I am here and I am home… wherever that may be at the moment. 

If you are not feeling these things, I encourage you to dig deep. Find that place where this joy lives and do everything you can to bring it out. My way may be not your way. But, I implore you to find your way. Life it way too fucking short to not be and do and live how you want and need. 

Cheers to your best life. 

Almost Heaven

Country roads…. take me home…. to the place I belong! West Virginia…..

Yes, that is where I currently am and I cannot get that beloved John Denver song out of my head. I looked at a map the other day. I mean a map of the entire country. Holy shit balls have I traveled a long way! And here I am, in the hills of West Virginia, watching my breath as it leaves my body, wrapped up in so many layers I lost track, and happy as fucking hell to be back out on the road. 

Stop right there – if you are one of the family members or friends that I visited, you have to just chill. Just because I am happy to be out on the road does not take one single thing away from our time together. This happiness does in no way diminish the happy times I had with you. There is room for both to be fulfilling and joyous and awesome. I was off the road about three weeks in all and now I feel like I am home. You know, like when the rest of you travel away from your jobs and houses and then you come back? That is what I am feeling. Back home.

It is gorgeous out here and cold and filled with fresh air. I am risking the cold because it is awesome and I have a hike tomorrow to a lookout point that I am excited about. I can hear traffic, so I know the highway is not far. I have seen a couple people and heard some just a bit ago. I feel isolated, but not too bad. I have my pit toilet and fire ring all for the glorious price of $10 per night. This is what I am talking about! 

I am feeing like the luckiest girl in the world to be here doing this thing having spent that time with my people. I saw the vast majority of my cousins, spent time with sisters, niece and nephews, and reconnected with my oldest friend ever. I got lazy, ate and drank too much, hiked and biked and explored. I am full up and know, deep inside, that I have put yet another of my goals to bed. I feel connected to people I had lost connection with. I feel like I have a much better understanding of their lives and a deeper sense of who they are and what they are about. I describe it as “putting my fingers all over your life”. It was amazing. 

I was and am ready to continue on my way. I needed to get back out, to get back to myself and to get back home. My home. This vast expanse that welcomes my return. 

So, here I am in my tent in my chair wrapped up like a swaddled babe. I found a sunny outcropping with a view and communed with nature, let my spirit soar, reconnected with all  things outside. The rocks were high enough for a fabulous view of the fall colors and the sun was slowly setting in the distance. It was magical.

I was close to not staying here. I nearly drove away. It was already cold when I got out of the car, as I was warned. But, holy shit it was so pretty and so sunny. I chose to tough it out and wear as many clothes as I needed. I am only staying two nights, though, so that is a good compromise. I will find warmer places when I leave. 

For now, I am happy and a little chilly and getting tired and I am excited. Oh, and I have to pee. Fortunately, I can cheat and use my LEAVE NO TRACE practices (that is all code for I can pee just outside the tent). A little cold will not diminish this beautiful place and the quiet it brings.

Cheers to that!

Dear Young People

I am writing to you, but also to myself. I am writing to the me of years passed, and to the me of today. I write to and for every young person embarking on their life’s journey. This post, dear young friends, is for you.

I have been in cold and rainy weather with beautiful and warm breaks in between. The change of seasons from Summer to Fall, or more like winter at this elevation, makes me contemplative and reflective. Take this letter literally for yourself, as it is meant to be, or rhetorical for the world, which it is, in a way, as well meant to be. 

This all struck me one day as I thought back to the high school graduation of my nephew. It was on that day when he ceased to be a senior that I became one. How ironic is that! It is my honor and privilege to have been part of that graduation. I felt like I was having one, too. As he was letting go, I was just beginning. Talk about Yin and Yang. He crossed over and I crossed into. This gives me pause. 

It has been a couple months since then. I have continued my pilgrimage, and had awesome and amazing and unfathomable experiences. I continue to live on the road, with all the pleasures and challenges it brings. Summer is ending for me and so are my commitments. I worked in the full summer sun, hurricane winds, temperatures peaking at 102. I slept near a freeway off ramp, in rodeo backlot and near carnival grounds. I slept in a windstorm and in the comfort of a motel room. I dog sat, house sat, hiked, biked, and turned a wonderful shade of brown. I am now in Yellowstone where the temperatures will be in the 30’s. I am at just over 7700 feet with the lake in view. I went on a boat ride, four-wheeled through the mud, listened to the elk bugle and fought the crowds for a place to park. I have seen the beauty and the wonder of God’s most precious creation. I am sated. 

I am also defying convention in my “senior” years. I am not gainfully employed, I do not own any sort of home or dwelling. I spend my days however the fuck I want. I travel and explore and talk to strangers. I am usually dirty and I may smell. I am dressed neat, but I do not always match. I keep to myself and I make new friends. I am not what people expect for someone my age. I do not feel my age. But, I feel more like myself than I ever have in all of my 55 years. 

What amazes me is that, for the most part, people do not expect anything of me. Truth be told, they also do not know what to think of me! I do not tell everyone my story or what I am doing or why. I asses each situation and decide in that moment. Most of the time when I choose to divulge, I get an extremely positive response. In fact, most people quickly relay their envy and comment that they “wish they could do that”. I assure them that they can. It is alarmingly easy to walk out of your life. I suggest a plan or at least a back-up plan, or at least some sense of consequence if there is no plan. But, more often than not, nobody really cares what I am doing or how much success I may have had, or not, in what I now call my “previous life”. I have actually lived a few lives in my years. The difference is that this time, and for the first time, I feel like I am totally and 100% calling the shots. This time I hold the reigns. 

I am telling you all of this because you are on the complete and total opposite end. Your life is just beginning and the expectations are rolling in. I am sure they started well before your graduation night. What’s next? Will you go to school? Live at home? Get married? What about a job? What are your plans??? There is an unending stream of questions, nay, expectations that have been thrust your way. I am convinced that they come from the people who love you the most. There are many folks in our lives who live with expectations. Those folks who hold the play book we should all follow. The “should” and “should not’s” lined out, scripted for us. What you are supposed to do and when and how. It is like your life is laid out for you and your job is to check the boxes, meet those goals and make it happen.

I really, really want you to know that is all bullshit. All of it. You do not have to do one fucking thing you do not want to. The dirty secret of this life is that there is no script. There is no one way to do anything! There is no “right” or “wrong”. Wait, let me back up here. There is the moral view of right and wrong. Murder is wrong and helping others is right. Can we just say that is understood? Let’s both agree that we know right from wrong in the more biblical sense. Murder wrong, helping someone, good. Cool. 

My point is that you are standing at the precipice of the most amazing opportunity. Well, one of the most amazing. Think about it – you will never be this age in this place at this time again. NEVER! I beg you, I implore you, I beseech you to look deep inside yourself and find your voice. Find your inner compass and let that guide you. Sure, take suggestions from others. I mean, sometimes we cannot think of everything. If it sounds good, by all means try it. If it sucks, then stop doing it. Please, please do not spend your life fulfilling the expectations of others. Do not do or be or perform or live in a way that is not of your choosing. Let others judge you, if that is what they must do. If you are confident in your choice and firm in your resolve, they will sense that and leave you alone. It really is none of their business anyhow. Suckers!

Find and use our voice. Make your priorities, your preferences, and the way you live your life known and stay the course. If someone gets pissed off about it, remind them that this is your choice and their job is to support you on your journey of self-discovery. Their job is not to mold you into someone you are not, or a mini version of them.

I began 55 with a light in my eyes and a spring in my step like I have never had. I have a freedom I always dreamed of. I have the confidence to live my life in a way that feels so good and so right I cannot even put it into words. It makes me sad to think of the years I wasted living a life that was told to me by everyone else. I forgive them, and myself, for neither of us knew any better. I thought I was doing the right things and living a good life. I kind of was. Sort of. But, now I know better. Boy, do I know better!

Here is another thing… nobody can dictate or prescribe or orchestrate just what it means to be any age. I mean, you are 18 or 19 or something and I am 55. People automatically assume things about us because of those numbers. I do not feel that number. I don’t really know what that number is supposed to tell the world except that I now and legitimately get a discount on stuff. Go me! You? What does your number mean to you? Hopefully nothing. Feel how and what you feel, regardless of the math. Fuck the numbers. They are just the passage of time anyway. 

Despite all of this, and from time to time, I do have my doubts. I am still human. I fear that my life on the road will hurt me later on when I want to actually earn money or make a living. I fear that I will not have enough money to buy a house or pay my bills when my health starts to fade. There are moments I have lots of fears. But, those fears quickly fade away when I stop and see where I am today. When I look around and see the trees and the animals, when I smell the pine and the rain and the sun. When I spend my day hiking and reading and writing. When I know that I am doing exactly what I want to be doing, then the future worries dissolve in front of my very eyes. 

I have faith, however. I mean I have faith in God and all that. A very strong and firm faith. But, living this life has taught me that when I am on the right path, when I am living the life I am meant to live, it is like the road is paved with gold. The path becomes clear and all the obstacles are removed. It is like being outside in the dark and someone shines a light on the way. It is like I do not even have to try and I am taken care of and I am well and all things align in the Universe. I have faith that once you find your inner voice, and once you start to listen to it and follow it, your path will be revealed. This all may sound a little hokey to you right now. But, trust me on this one, when you do what you are supposed to do, it all works out. 

How do you know if you are on the right track, you ask? First, you have to really be in tune with that inner voice, your deepest feeling and intuition. You have to know who you are and what you are about. Living on the right track means that you are calm and at peace, your life just works out and things line up. You are taken care of. You are happy and have a sense of purpose, a sense of peace, and your heart is full. If you are not or do not feel these things, then it is time to get back in touch with yourself. You may have lost your way and must reset the compass; it’s never too late to change course. Never too lake to make a change. Never.

Oh, you will also make mistakes. You will think you found that great thing and it will not be that great thing. You will think you know who you are and then, later, find out you did not know shit. That just means you are growing and learning. Be a student of your own life. Be a learner in this world. Be a listener when everyone else is speaking. Be open to everyone and everything. Be a pilgrim.

I am on a pilgrimage and I am living like a pilgrim in the second half, or so I hope, of my life. I wish for you that to live like a pilgrim in this, the first half of your life. June 7, 2019 was the day I became a senior. I walked into the same door you walked out of when you graduated. I am living the last part of my life and I want you to live the first part of yours with all of the greatness I have now found. Life is awesome and amazing and truly a gift. I wish for you many, many years of unwrapping. I will just be over here, admiring my own gifts as they have already been opened. 

Cheers, Young Person! Many, many, and oh so many Cheers!