No, you don’t necessarily need to be in a national forest to figure life out. Yet I realized that by being awake and alive in such a place, life happened to present more clarity. In being in one of these places, you may just stumble upon 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. If you choose to take the longer route home, that time it takes may allow you to start solving any problems or thoughts you had been dealing with for a long period of time. Luckily, that route is a bit more scenic, too. And the pieces might start to fall into into place more easily.
Yesterday morning around 7 a.m. I was driving into the San Juan National Forest after departing from Durango, a small city in southwestern Colorado. 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. However, the odds are much better that my surroundings and the 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 forward. If you have not yet mastered the art of moving on and/or 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.
But, I couldn’t escape these thoughts. As different memories soared through my head and made specific and different connections, my leisurely drive was quickly 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 few 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 I couldn’t see the road through my windshield because my watery eyes completely blurred my vision. There I was, crying alone on the side of the road in the middle of a forest.
Curiously however, the pain that I have come to know so well from this mess didn’t make me feel as bogged down as it once had before. I was letting a deep, confusing sadness rush out and didn’t expect such lightness to be one of the only side effects 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. Looking forward for a moment in time, I collapsed my sun visor mirror to see all the mascara that was probably entirely removed from my lashes, but all that I saw was the hazel pigment of the eyes that had just heavily flooded. They mirrored the green of the trees soaking up the morning light. Breathing deeply, I said Okay, well, I guess that you’re probably going be okay. Slowly gathering myself, I checked behind me for any approaching cars, got back onto the road and began to 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 arrive unexpectedly, through all the bottled up pain, I start to see more of the big picture that, inevitably, must one day be solved. This puzzle is slowly being solved.
These moments cannot 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.
You don’t need to find yourself in a national forest to figure life out. But sometimes, it helps.