Day 96 (July 2): The Tension of Life
If yesterday wasn’t Canada Day, then surely it’s today! We woke up on the side of the road feeling surprisingly refreshed. I think sleeping in the Wal Mart parking lot kind of broke down the pride in me. I can sleep anywhere now – just as long as we are safe.
We drove to the hot springs park before we even made our coffee. It turns out we were closer than we thought. I walked/ran Everest for a few miles in loops through the campground and then we had a nice lazy breakfast before a dip in the springs.
I use the word “lazy” a lot. But it’s not really that we’re lazy. It’s more that time means something different to us these days. There is always something to do. I have so many posts I want to write and stories to share. Plus every time I get behind the wheel and drive it is my job to get us from Point A to Point B safely. We can stop anytime we want and stay wherever we like. Yet the desire in us to reach Alaska keeps us pressing on.
There’s no laziness in us. There’s just an upside down schedule whereby our needs and wants seem to shuffle themselves into the schedule at their own leisure.
A New Day
No two days are ever the same when you travel. So I doubt this day is any more replicable than the last. We woke up near the Laird River and drove a quarter mile to the Hot Spring park. It was $5 Canadian for each of us. But with the boon docking we have been doing lately, this cost is almost worth the bath we got in the springs!
We parked in a mostly empty parking lot such that our solar panels received as much direct light as possible. We wanted to work, offline albeit, and having power is always number one when it comes to work.
After a “lazy” breakfast we wandered down to the thermal spring. It was a mix between the more man-made springs of Thermopolis, WY and the rustic natural springs we visited in Idaho. The rangers built a deck that went back a half mile or so from the parking lot into the woods. From there the deck opened up into a series of changing rooms and cubbies to store your possessions. A series of man-made steps led down into a two to three foot deep pond of hot, stinky water. And it sure was relaxing!
A Balancing Act
We relaxed for an hour or so in the thermal springs and then went back to the camper to work for a few hours. I feel in all the time I spent “working” all I did was play catchup. I think this feeling tells me that we are still going too fast, too hard. But there is still some drive in me to move. I can’t seem to balance it with a contentment to stay in any one place. The times I felt comfortable enough to stay I felt the nagging push inside to get to Alaska. Now that we are so close to Alaska, that push is even greater.
I feel like all of life is a balancing act. There is a tension that exists between opposite ends of some spectrum and we’re simply trying to find our place between them. Travel, for me, really messes with this tension. I feel like I sometimes slap back and forth like an overstretched rubber band rather than find myself living in the tension.
In traveling, the opposite ends are extended and contracted such that you find yourself kind of holding on to the changing circumstance. Some places are so far beyond your expectations that you slide toward that beauty and find yourself wanting to stay a bit longer in its presence. Maybe you even scheme up plans for how you can stay, or justify coming back. However, the more you pull yourself toward that beauty the greater the tension that exists pulling you back in the other direction.
Pursuit of the Next Best Thing
Or you find that you are completely underwhelmed at a certain place. Your expectations had set a standard for your experience that were far from achievable. Then, in the moment of arrival, you find yourself feeling pulled to leave. You become willing the exchange the beauty that you’d find for the quick departure to the next best thing.
For me, this was virtually every national park we’ve visited. If we had stayed a week or two, or even a month, and had explored every trail at various times in the day I sense I would have had a different feeling. But nearly every time we arrived in a national park I felt a sense of disconnect. I felt I did not belong, even for the temporary moments of beauty, and I found myself willing to exchange a present moment for the anticipation of the next best thing.
We’ve seen amazing things in our journey thus far. But none has compelled me to go any more than one has compelled me to stay.
This is the tension of which I speak.
We live each day in the throes of what could be diverging with what is. Living in the present moment is such a challenge. You may know of our journey and think we are entirely free of worry. But that is simply not true. We worry differently than you, perhaps. But we worry all the same.
- Are we living well?
- Are we going where we are called?
- Are we doing what we’ve been called to do?
At this end of this journey, or life, will we look back at the cost and say it was well worth it?
The next best thing is always pulling. The greater thing is never enough. And here we live in a tension between the two. Only, we live out of a truck camper as home, never really knowing where or for how long we will stop and rest for the night.
We left the thermal spring wishing we could find another one almost exactly the same just a little further down the road. It was that nice. But I knew it was not possible. These moments in life are not replicable. It’s the tension we have to remember. It’s the tension we have to mind.
Instead we ended up camping near another river, the Smart River, and were immediately overwhelmed by the infestation of mosquitos. We drove through the afternoon and evening to get there. The sense of Alaska calling was great. And, again, we did not have the wildlife experience that the evening before had set us up to expect. We saw a few bears, rabbits and bison. But the drive this evening was not nearly what it was last night.
I have to learn to live better in the tension. I’m old enough to know that no two days are the same. Still my heart yearns for comfortable feeling one finds in passing days. That feeling of purpose and contentment, of subtle people in the passing time.
When you travel you have to find it all over again every day, and in new places. Sometimes I think this is hard. But I imagine for you, if you are settled at home, it is no different.