The Redwoods

Losing my mind was part of the plan. You have to find and understand the dark parts in order to feel whole.

One habit I am understanding better is my need to always be doing something. My craving for activity, accomplishment and doing. Doing, doing, doing. Going, going, going. I think this stems from not being satisfied with my present moment. Specifically not having all the things I expected to have by now – a fulfilling career, lots of money, a husband and family. So I fill my time with things I can accomplish. Then I push my boundaries or try new things. But really that is a distraction. I am running from my disappointment. I am attached to the outcomes.

I finally realized I put my happiness in the outcomes, so when they didn’t come true I can’t be happy. But it doesn’t have to be that way, I can choose to find happiness in the process and not the outcome. I can face the emotion and work on the change.

On my way up north, I made my way to the Redwood Forests in Northern California. I reached the visitor center and told myself I would get a car camping spot to relax and write. But I reached the office and overheard the ranger describing the backpacking routes to the woman in front of me in line. I ask to listen in and we both get descriptions of the wilderness camping around the Redwoods. Immediately my mind changes and I want to backpack! All the routes sound easy. So I sign up for a 4.5 mile hike to Gold Bluffs Beach Campground where you can have a warm campfire. Typical Miinkay. Excitedly I drive to the parking lot, pack up and set off.

The redwoods are nothing less than majestic. My photos can’t do them justice. My words will try. Immediately after seeing the first tree I am in awe. My mouth is wide open and stays wide open for at least 30 minutes. As you walk under these gigantic trees, you feel a sense of smallness. Like my life is but a tiny blip on their radar and I am simply passing through just as the thousands of people before me. These trees live to be over 500 years old. And they all are different. Some are more gnarled than others. Some have a beautiful swirling bark design that wraps around the entire tree. Others have fallen or were struck by lightning. It’s as if you know you are walking through ages of wisdom, but you have no way of accessing it. You know these trees are connected to more than just what you see but you can’t prove or comprehend how. Instead you just keep walking. Pretty soon I am by myself in the forest of locked-away wisdom and all you hear is the stomp stomp stomp of my feet and the click, clack, clanging of my gear.

I reach the camp in 2 hours and walk around the whole camp, scoping out camp sites and looking for the camp host. The main reason I felt that backpacking would be great is because the ranger told me I could have a campfire. And that’s all I really wanted at this point. In my whole week of travel I had yet to have a beautiful orange-yellow, fluttering campfire. But after scouring the camp, there was no camp host! Which means I can’t buy firewood. Which means no camp fire…

I was frustrated, but there was nothing to be done. In these situations I always deal with the frustration by brushing it aside because there’s nothing I can do to get what I want. So then I just have to accept the reality and move on. But this time I tried to feel my anger and resentment and embrace it. Only my anger and resentment was more than just about the campfire. It came from my decision to go backpacking in the first place. If I had decided to find a car camping spot instead, then I wouldn’t be in this predicament and I could enjoy my campfire and my books. But instead I wanted to accomplish. I wanted to hike with my gear and have both the campfire and the accomplishment.

Wow. There’s something about just recognizing your pain and where it comes from that takes most of the pain away.

It’s like when you give your fear a definition or a name and you can then take hold of the problem and conquer it.

Maybe you can’t access the wisdom of the trees because wisdom can’t be downloaded. Wisdom comes from experience. In my case I put so much happiness in the campfire that when it wasn’t there I missed how beautiful the beach was and forgot how amazing it felt to walk alone through the redwoods. (The man in that photo was about 6 ft tall!)

Happiness should come from the present and not the future. To work on this I have been using my breath.

Breathing in, I am breathing in.

Breathing out, I am breathing out.

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