I tend to spend a lot of time thinking about why I do things and the question of why I write is one I return to over and over again. For a long time, when someone would ask me this question (or when I would explore it myself), the answer would come, not in the form of words, but in a feeling. A standing-on-top-of-a-mountain feeling. Or a sitting-around-a-campfire feeling. Or a staring-up-into-a-perfectly-clear-night-sky feeling. I knew what the answer felt like but I hadn’t yet found the words to describe it.
Enter Brené Brown.
I hiked alone today. Not alone alone. There were the people who threw a stick in the river and the dog who jumped in after it. The woven-poncho wearing twenty-somethings who were disappointed they couldn’t actually enter the old abandoned mine. The grandma, the granddaughter, and the little girl’s young mother who never stopped talking. The girls carrying fluorescent hula hoops. The couple in galoshes. The man with the country music blaring from his backpack. I wasn’t exactly alone.
But I was.
Today was the second day of my solo retreat at Turkey Run State Park, a retreat I’d planned in an attempt to get a bunch of writing done on my novel, and to, you know, fix my life and stuff. I’m not exactly sure what wisdom or clarity I expected to gain in a day and a half, but whatever it was, I wasn’t getting it. I didn’t feel any better at all. In fact, I felt the same. Or maybe even worse. And if I wasn’t feeling better here, if getting away from regular life wasn’t fixing my problems, then what was the point in staying? I should probably just pack my stuff and leave early, like first thing tomorrow morning.
I was supposed to see the Rocky Mountains for the first time yesterday. My train was supposed roll into Rocky Mountain country between 6:45 and 7:30 pm. We were supposed to cross the trestlework bridge, and I was supposed to see those snow-capped peaks reflecting the reds and purples of the setting sun, just like the picture on Amtrak’s website.
When we crossed into Montana from North Dakota at 3:00 pm, I checked the train schedule. We were running three hours late. At sunset, we were still moving through the Montana prairie. We wouldn’t reach the mountains until the middle of the night. And by the time the sun would rise the next morning, the mountains would be far behind us. I was going to miss the Rockies completely.