Steps in the Mud

“Are you going to be grumpy all day?” Paige asks, trying to prod me out of my teenage mope.

“Maybe,” I respond with a waver of a smile.

I can’t write more about the blooming lotuses of this trip without talking about some of the mud. I step in it everyday. It likes to form in the low ground between expectations and reality. Life on the road is not full of serene meditations on the edges of cliffs . Expectations being what they are—ideal futures that have not happened yet—there is ample room for falling short and slipping into the mud. Every time I step into it a decision can be made to either wallow in it or to acknowledge it, learn from it, and continue on.

Before we began our southwest tour in the Westy, I drafted a schedule. Eager to leave behind the distractions of modern town living, I imagined a lifestyle full of observation, spontanaeity and creativity. I thought a typical day would include four hours of writing, a leisurely hike, a few hours of driving, a late afternoon meal/siesta, and some reading/guitar time.

Thus far, that schedule’s been mighty elusive. A few problems include:

  1. Leaving little time to interact with other human beings, namely my lovely wife
  2. Not factoring in any of the time needed to clean, rearrange, and live in a very small space.
  3. Not realizing the time I would spend maintaining, improving, and worrying about the Westfalia
  4. Forgetting about the time needed to plan a trip from the road
  5. Remembering that for several weeks of the trip the priority would be spending time with family

Given these unplanned realities it’s  still hard to complain about my office space this morning:


The morning fire on the cliffs of Zion enthralls. But it also beckons. I want to be experiencing it, not looking at it from the front seat of the Westy. When I travel, I desire to seek the new, to step out and take in the flavor of the air, the smell of the earth, the feel of the pathway. And afterwards I want to reflect on what I’ve seen. Of course, there’s never the time to follow every beckoning call, namely because I  value giving time to my relationships first and must also  give due process to the host of responsibilities and intangible time takers which fill the day.

Herman Hesse in Siddhartha reminds me:

“Seeking means: to have a goal; but finding means: to be free, to be receptive, to have no goal. You are indeed a seeker, for in striving towards your goal, you do not see many things that are under your nose.”

There are wonders around me I do not see. There are new experiences I do not appreciate because they are not what I planned to be doing. I did not plan to spend the better part of two days collecting materials for and then wiring an alternate battery and inverter. If I view this as a deviation from a strict time-based schedule then it might be considered a loss, a waste. But if instead it’s part of the daily substance of life, an investigation and immersion into something new, then it can be an enriching experience.

There can be time for the lotuses and there can be time for the mud.


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