In John Prine’s song “Angel from Montgomery,” he says, “How the hell can a person go to work in the morning, then come home in the evening, and have nothing to say?” I ruminate about blog topics, sometimes coming up empty handed. I want my posts to have greater value than idle chatter. Can I write anyway if I don’t open the process with a grip on what I have to say? It is better to be mute?
My environmental impact is often on my mind. I’m at Roan Mountain State Park in the northeast corner of Tennessee. Though the sites are nicely spaced and there are trees between us, big rigs are piled up all around me. Lola and I are ensconced in the outdoors, but getting here came at a cost of emitting carbon into the environment. I’m conflicted because I love Mother Nature and it takes a lot of gas to drive my rig from place to place. I take some solace in asserting that my carbon footprint is less than it was when I was living alone, heating and cooling a 4200 square foot house. I wonder if those who crawl along the highway in 45 foot monstrosity motor homes at 6 m.p.g. have similar concerns. Today I’ll find a carbon offset project to which I’ll give what I can.
I set out to intentionally spend time alone. But I’m amid sites where campers are enjoying the company of their significant others and their families. I wonder what that feels like. Loneliness begets sadness. I’ve felt tinges of both. Does spending time alone enable my unique creativity to flourish? Is gearing down in solitude peaceful, refreshing? What do I see with all of this time to look inside? Will this time make me more apt to show up better for the people in my life? Some questions merit being followed rather than answered.
I could offset solitude with imaginary conversations where I speak both sides…Imaginary speaker 1: ”It’s cloudy today.” Imaginary speaker 2: “The sun always returns.” Imaginary speaker 1: “Want to walk the dog together?” Imaginary speaker 2: “Sure, it’d be good to get fresh air.” Imaginary speaker 1: “What would you like to have for dinner?” Imaginary speaker 2: “I vote for grilling. Why don’t you choose what we have?” Sharing simple conversations is relationship bedrock.
I’ve just returned from a walk up and back down the mountain with Lola. Hiking is mentally stimulating without mental exertion or situational manipulation. For instance, I wondered this morning about those characteristics that I brought into this world and those that are existential. I was born wired in to hike. On the other hand, loving music is existential. Music from her favorite classical station stirred my mother’s soul. In his song “We Make The Way by Walking,” David Wilcox speaks of being relieved from ghosts of the past…”I walked a little bit further, and the walking set me free.”
There are bears in this area. About a half hour into this morning’s hike, I contemplated meeting one on the trail and I turned back. Had we confronted a bear, Lola and I would have been outmanned. But my fear was projected, and it evoked the question of justified versus unjustified fear. I elected not to be present to uncertainty. Wariness about a possible bear encounter is wise. Fearing it didn’t eliminate the fear; it escalated it. This morning’s fear was a metaphor for my shadow of desire to assuage all of the discomforts I feel inside.
I fear having nothing to say. When that comes up, it’s time to blog.