Te Afteroa

It’s been a few weeks since I finished walking. A lot has happened. A lot hasn’t happened.

The biggest thing that has happened, however, is I’m back in Portland, sitting on my couch with my cats, contemplating things.

To quote an article a friend linked me to: “life has ceased to be linear”. On the trail I had very few decisions to make. What am I going to eat for breakfast? Well, I had bars and I had muesli, not a tough decision. What am I doing today? Well, I have 2 choices: walk, or not walk. And most days I chose walk, if I’d already been walking the day before. Where was I going to walk? Up the trail. How far? To the next hut. What am I going to do after that? Eat. After that? Read. After that? Sleep. Rinse. Repeat.

Even adjusting to life off the trail while in New Zealand was hard. I’ve often found myself lacking the ability to make a decision about what to do, where to go, when I’m visiting a place. This was no exception. And it reminded me of what I liked so much about my time on the trail. Things were simpler, I just needed to feed myself and walk and everything was fine. Sometimes I’d get bored in a hut if I got in too early, but that’s ok, I can just eat, or sleep. Things I can’t necessarily do when I’m in the real world. I read somewhere once if you get hungry during the day to ask yourself “are you hungry or are you bored?”. 9 times out of 10 the answer to that is “bored”, but on the trail it’s ok if I just eat anyways, because I’m burning so many calories it’s all I can do to eat enough to get me through the day. When visiting places it ends up that I have this dilemma a lot, and I’ll recognize that I’m just bored, but I can’t figure out what to do, what I want to do, and so I’ll spin on that for a while until I end up going and eating anyways. Sometimes I’ll even get stuck on where to eat! That was also easy on the trail, eat what I have or if I’m in a town, eat something cheap or something good. Preferably both, but $8 fish and chips is always there and always good, so if all else fails, just go do that.

But I do the same thing at home. I’ve observed many times in the past that I can’t seem to leave my house without spending money. Like I have to have a destination in mind before I leave, and 99 times out of 100 that destination is “spend some money somewhere.” On a coffee, on food, a museum, whatever. I can’t seem to leave the house if I’m not going somewhere to spend money. On the trail there wasn’t anywhere to spend money, or any need to really. My goal for the day was always clear: walk to the next place. Because it was in support of my overall goal: walk across the country.

So the challenge now is that I’m currently at a major crossroads, with many options and none super clear. I can go try to find a job. Will I enjoy that job? Are there any jobs I would enjoy in Portland? Am I going to have to move somewhere? If so, where? What about a job doing something other than what I’ve been doing? What would I even do? How much would I be able to even make? Enough to support myself? I dunno.

One of the things I keep feeling like I “should” do is engage my creative side. Most of my career I’ve just been problem solving and bashing head against computer, and when not doing that I’m just watching TV or reading or whatever, all consumption and no creation. But there’s the problem of “what creative side?” I’ve never felt artistic or creative at all. I know the basics of knitting, but I don’t knit because I have no clue what to make. I’ve tried to just go make something, but my brain tells me that’s “leaving the house to spend money.” And so many of my ventures (read: all) into hobbies in the past have failed that I’m hesitant to even try.

Now, not all is doom and gloom. One of the biggest positive changes that I’ve noticed after the trail is I feel a lot less wired. I feel like I’m more able to stop spinning on something and if not find a clear path to go forward and execute, at least stop the spinning. Break out of the loop. It helps me be able to think more rationally and less anxiously. This means the fretting I’m doing about “what’s next” is at least feeling somewhat productive. I’m coming up with lots of ideas, and lots of them are really good. Each of them has something to be fearful of, anxious about, but this break in the cycle of my life, this exploration of what else is out there, is making me think more seriously about those things, and look at them with less “why won’t this work” and more “how could I make that work?” I feel like this in itself is a great change, and if I can continue that line of thinking, will be extremely positive for me overall.

In the mean time, I’m facing a bit of a financial snafu at home. I spent a lot more on this trip than I probably should have, and now my cash reserves are on the lower end of the spectrum. Nothing terrible, but it means I’m going to have to do some belt tightening. Eat out less (which is something I’ve been wanting to do forever anyways), spend less money on stupid crap (also something I’ve been wanting to do forever), probably sell some stuff that I’m not using or don’t need anymore. But it also means I have a bit of time pressure to take action, which is honestly a good thing. It means I can’t just sit around and do nothing, at least not all the time, that I need to get moving and do research and search for what’s next. Easier said than done, true, but it at least should help me focus my actions. I can’t just sit around and do nothing, or do effectively nothing all day, so that at least narrows the scope of my decision making process a bit!

Ok, I’m rambling, I’ve been rambling. It’s ok, but I’m going to stop rambling for now. I’m going to spend some time cuddling with my kitties. I really missed them a lot while I was gone.

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