I arrived one week ago to a beautiful group of friends and family jumping up and down at the railway car on Water Street. As I peruse the images of me, I can see that I felt ecstatic. The walk was complete – 883 kilometres, 45 days later – I am home. At ground zero as it were. This wasn’t a vacation; it was an extraordinary walk across the island of Newfoundland.
But right now, it all seems like a bit of a blur.
I’m exhausted and a trifle lost, truth be told. I slept sporadically the whole time and I moved every day. I became a nomad. People keep asking me how this walk has changed me. My only response (although I do try to find the “answer”) is that I don’t really know yet. My gear still lies behind the bed. I’m not settled or jumping into the things I “missed”. I didn’t run to my favourite restaurant or jump into my much-loved jeans. I’m not sure of what to wear or eat because there are so many choices again.
Out there, on the trail, my choices had to do with either/or - which track to walk, or should I wear shorts or pants, short sleeve or long sleeve? The sky would tell me how to approach the day. I had very little stuff and, while in the beginning that was a challenge extraordinaire, it became a wonderful freedom somewhere along the way. Even food was pretty easy – oatmeal, eggs or whatever was put in front of me. I didn’t crave anything but water. My taste for sugar all but disappeared. I grew to love my stuff because every piece served me in some way and if it didn’t, I tossed it (well, I sent it home). The stuff I ”tossed” now sits at the end of the bed calling for a place to be put. I’ve yet to figure out where that might be.
Generally, I live a pretty simple life here but coming home to all of the stuff that we surround ourselves with has been a tad overwhelming. I can’t seem to get rid of things. I am making piles but getting nowhere. I walked into the grocery store and deserted the cart half way through. A couple of days ago, I abandoned it all and stuck my face in Bill Bryson’s “A Walk in the Woods” where I felt completely at home and absorbed (Incidentally I couldn’t read his book before I left because of his graphic description of bears). I laughed, related to his feelings of pain, anguish and euphoria. He too describes the corridor of woods opening up to the splendour of a viewpoint. How it smacks you in the face and makes you feel alive and full of pride. How you feel the vastness of this universe and your microscopic existence in it. He inhabits the simple, just like I did. And now I’m here again amongst the piles of stuff and the “comforts” it brings. Is there a self-help group out there for people like me?
But, let me be clear, I’m not dying to get back out there. I do wish there was some sort of decompression chamber I could put myself in. Slowly a very sophisticated lazy Susan could introduce food, clothing, maybe bring up emails one at a time, open my mail in order of importance, perhaps give me a little nudge in the direction I could or should be going, schedule “meetings”, and put my stuff away. I’d like to start all over again – not the walk, but the stuff. Just take up residence somewhere else, preferably in a tiny little camp north of here, truth be told.