The sound of today’s rain on our roof reminds me of a couple of days Jim and I spent in a three-sided shelter at Katahdin Stream Campground in Maine.
Before Jim and I left on vacation, the person who was coaching me “observed” (a term for feedback I guess) that I needed some time to just “be.”
Dominic wasn’t wrong.
My Dad died late February from Alzheimers, and then that spring we house hunted, bought a house, and then moved into that house, all in six months. My work as an executive coach was heating up as I signed on more clients and I had begun interviewing a collection of IT executives to write a white paper.
So, no slowdown there.
Since Dad’s death I had also pretty much flung myself into preparing physically and mentally to hike Mount Katahdin, the endpoint of the Appalachian trail in Baxter State Park. That effort was to both honor my Dad and well, give me some way to channel my grief and sadness. I completed the tough twice a week workouts put together by my fabulous personal trainer Jason Harbin, who knows me well and knew exactly what I was doing. I pushed myself through several longer hikes at the Cincinnati Nature Center throughout the summer. I also finally got fitted for (yes they do exist) tri-focal toric contact lenses to make the tough and rocky hiking journey safer, faster and more fun.
There was a whole lot of sweating, journaling, packing and unpacking, venting, busyness, grief, stress, crying and coping in that seven months…But truly just being? Not so much. Did I really care at the time? Ah no.
Both Jim and I pretty much worked on house and work stuff (and we had my two teenage sons for a month as well in July/August when we moved), literally until we drove away to Maine. Our only real breaths were to order food for the trip, some trip planning and reservations and then a mildly frantic stint of packing and “waterproof the tent!!” a couple of days before.
I can’t tell you how glad we were that this was not a true backpacking trip..Neither of us had the brainspace to worry about how much stuff we needed to actually carry in each backpack…Car camping was just fine, thank you.
Fast forward our trip to when we were actually camped in a lean to in Baxter State Park, about two days in. We had attempted Mount Katahdin on Monday, and had to turn back due to hail and high winds. We were not sure if the weather was going to clear before we had to leave. Our hopes were pinned on Friday, which would hopefully be clear based on current weather reports.
Keep in mind, I had prepped for this trip for six months and there was definitely emotional baggage and pressure felt by me and by Jim FOR me.
And then it rained steadily Monday night, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. We had had no electricity, and cell phone signal since entering the park (not a bad thing really). I had hurt my big toe on my right foot during the first ascent on Monday. I needed to stay off that toe if I wanted to hike again Friday. (Mind you that too-long toe nail did not cause permanent damage and was easily trimmed but the swelling needed to come down.)
So Jim went off to hike on those days leaving me to journal and stare into the rain and to just second by second, minute by minute, hour by hour….finally give into “being.”
I don’t change gears well. Well, let’s just say I do change gears, it’s just not a smooth transition. And stopping all together? Um…what does that look like?
So that’s what it took for me to finally “be.” No internet access, lots of rain in a three sided wooden shelter, with the occasional sighting of a 95 mph chipmunk dashing back and forth under the shelter. (We counted 20 sightings in about four days.)
I finally got tired of writing in my journal, finished my library books, and attempted to draw a lame sketch or two. Then I just sat on the shelter floor on my air mattress looking out (still counting chipmunks, of course).
I could hear the rain thrumming on the roof and Katahdin Stream rushing past just beyond our abode. For a while I confess, I vacillated between feeling a rather frustrated boredom and something more low key…for me anyway.
And…My heart slowed down, my breath eased back and my body gradually relaxed. I could do nothing about the weather and there was no way to keep my mind “busy,”, it was out of my hands.
And for that time I was just….being.