I’ve been sitting in the small cafe now for about an hour. The staff mill about behind the counter, refilling refrigerated coolers and food prep stations. Chris is reading the LA Times which I have already thumbed through. I read an article about the impacts of recreational marijuana legalization on states bordering Colorado as well as a few other paragraphs from different news stories. A mudslide in Colorado, a psychotic killer in Southern California, a promise from the President to Veterens, etc., etc., and so forth, and so on. I put the paper down and begin writing this blog article. A few minutes later Choop walks in the door, high-fiving Chris. The two just met yesterday, just as Chris and myself met this past week. One minute we were total strangers, the next all sharing living and sleeping quarters in the tiny town of Lone Pine, California. Is my world really the same world I was reading about only 20 minutes ago in the newspaper?
I glance up at the flat screen looming in my periphery, images of Katy, Jennifer, and other beautiful celebrities flash across the screen before and add for some terrible movie involving who-knows-what. It’s all very distracting and it’s very common. Have you ever taken note of how many flashing panels of moronic nonsense fill YOUR periphery? In a society that is shocked by violent outbursts fueled by sexual frustration, is it so hard to see the media shoving violence and sex in your face every chance they get? Don’t get me wrong, I’m terribly disturbed and saddened by the recent tragedy that took place in SoCal and I feel for those poor people who were affected.
But trail life is different. I’ve hiked roughly 700 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail this season so far and I foresee myself making it to Yosemite Valley, maybe further before I have to return to ‘real life’. But wait, the trail life IS my real life. *Ring Ring* My cell phone screen comes to life and my Father is on the other end telling me that I need to figure out the registration on my car. It expires in two months…ahhh, the REAL world is calling.
Back to the issue at hand. I’ve been sleeping in the back yard of a friend I made less then a week ago, with two other friends I met in the woods. The house we were welcomed into remains unlocked so we can come and go as we please, use the kitchen, take a shower, whatever we need. This is my reality right now. It’s this beautiful alternate-reality I have talked about previously. It’s the community of like minded individuals who value relationships, travel, experience. They remain undistracted by all the bullshit that’s flashed in front of our faces like a steak in front of hungry dogs. We don’t bite or even lunge. Our satisfaction is found in the aerie crags, the evening conversations over a beer, the afternoon dip in an icy mountain stream. It’s true, our lives are touched by all that pervades society. Divorce, suicide, loss, and sadness. In the open-natured hearts of the characters I’ve meet we’ve discussed all of these issues. A sort of therapy session exists out here that you don’t pay for in dollars but instead earn in sweat.
Now I’m glancing up at a commercial for furniture – NO INTEREST, LOW MONTHLY PAYMENTS, BUY NOW! It reminds me of the impermanence of our existence. We accumulate stuff for the purpose of…what exactly, I’m not sure. We can’t take it with us to the next life. My experience is that the more crap you own, the less freedom you can easily find. Less then a year ago I gave away my furniture, sold my beloved blender, packed all the rest of my life into my Subaru and submitted to the call to go West. It was a good decision.
And with impermanence in mind, I realize that these friends, these dirtbag, homeless, traveling friends will continue their journeys. We are here for only a short moment, the intersection of four people’s dreams and adventures converging at this special in time and place. Maybe this is the only adventure we will share together or maybe our trajectories will cross again, it’s uncertain. What is certain is the beauty of this existence – this adventure together. It’s far from a ‘typical’ lifestyle, but from what I see flashing across the TV screen right now, I’m glad that we are experiencing something different.