Life: Figuring It Out In a National Forest

No, you don’t have to be in a national forest to figure life out. But life often presents more clarity in a place like a national forest. You may just so happen to find some missing pieces to a puzzle that you have been trying to figure out for almost a year.

Being on the road alone isn’t especially easy, but if you embrace it and listen to your gut, you can learn a lot about yourself and maybe figure out where some of those puzzle pieces go. And if you choose the longer route home, the time it takes might allow you to start solving any problems or thoughts you have been dealing with. Luckily, that route is a bit more scenic, too. And the pieces might start to fall into into place.

Yesterday morning around 7 a.m. I was driving into the San Juan National Forest after departing from Durango. My every-way-but-one-track mind took turns as winding as the road unfolding before me. I unconsciously realized that the time would probably pass by more swiftly if I dedicated a portion of it to some much needed self-reflection problem solving. I would have liked to think that this came from out of the blue, but the odds are much better that my surroundings and a detachment from my comfort zone had something to do with it.

So, with the windows rolled down, I listened to music, sipped hot coffee and contemplated life only to discover that there was no escape from the unforeseen, mixed up thoughts and emotions that were about to abruptly surface. When you are constantly being reminded of things that put a halt on moving forward in life, it is so hard to do just that. Move on. If you have not yet mastered the art of moving on and letting thoughts come and go as quickly as they arrive, then you might have to face them while more than 300 miles away from home. Thankfully, I was in a pretty good place to escape.

San Juans

As different thoughts and memories soared through my head and made specific connections, my leisurely drive was soon interrupted. I started to ache, and the sporadically resurfacing and seemingly unsolvable predicament that has been plaguing me for ten months now resurfaced yet again. The first tears broke and the rest followed in a solid stream running down my cheeks. I had to find a spot to pull over as my watery eyes blurred my vision. There I was, crying alone on the side of the road.

Curiously however, the pain that I have come to know so well from this mess didn’t make me feel as bogged down as before. I was letting a deep, confusing sadness rush out but didn’t expect such lightness to be the only side effect this time. It didn’t feel real. As I blew my nose and collected myself, I took a few drinks of water and I squinted forward to gaze at the distant mountains ahead of me. Okay, well, I guess that I’m probably gonna be okay. The hazel pigment of the eyes that just flooded mirrored the green of the trees soaking up the morning light. Breathing deeply, I checked behind me for any approaching cars, got back onto the road and let the thoughts go as quickly as they arrived.

I can’t plan for these unpredictable, semi-life altering, impacting moments in between the everyday moments. But each time they unexpectedly arrive, through all the pain, I start to see more of the big picture that, inevitably, must one day be solved. The puzzle is slowly being solved.

These moments can’t possibly be planned for. Figuring it on your own is hard but sometimes that might be the best way to go about it. Those beautiful little realization moments that help fill in the confusing puzzle pieces you had once been blankly staring at. Moving on can be tricky but it’s perfectly okay to cry, let it out and let the solutions come to you, even when you are 300+ miles away from home.


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