While my time visiting friends was wonderful, I felt an urge to move on. North, specifically. I felt strongly compelled in the same way I had felt pulled last year to go on this journey. It’s not that I wasn’t having a good time but rather just a a sense that this wasn’t where I was supposed to be. A recognition that I don’t belong there anymore, if I ever did. An uneasiness crept up at times, a feeling I hadn’t experienced in quite awhile and made me start to live a bit in the future, thinking about driving through new places and hiking through new landscapes. It made me question if I was searching for something outside myself, some external set of conditions to make me happy. I had started to feel like I needed an escape. But now looking back I know I just needed time alone and without distraction – because a new chapter was waiting for me.
As soon as I drove away I felt relieved. Again, not to leave any of you lovely people, but because I was returning to my path. Driving north along back roads through Rhode Island and Massachusetts any lingering feelings of restlessness disappeared – almost instantly in fact – and were replaced by an inner quietude. By the time I crossed into New Hampshire at the end of that day feelings of sheer contentment had completely taken hold.
During the next few days I felt a heightened sense of awareness of the world around me – it seemed as though time slowed down, allowing me to capture every movement, every sight, and every sound. By my third day in New Hampshire I had given up on any plans of seeing particular things and truly just began wandering aimlessly. Over the next few weeks I experienced my surroundings in a new way – noticing everything, being present in every moment, and not analyzing or thinking much. In fact, despite my immersion in the experiences of those weeks, looking back I can barely recall some of the things I came across in my explorations. I was living in the present to the extent that I barely even read. Even now weeks later as I finish writing this in Nova Scotia I am still feeling this way: Present. Aware. Content. Perfect.
Which brings me to my next point: how I’m going to relate this next section of my journey to you through the blog. See, I can’t really adequately explain to you my experiences over much of the those weeks using words. This inability to express myself verbally has been a source of ongoing frustration for me. My intention was never to use this blog to write anyway – it just developed organically as a way to keep people updated on my activities, using words instead of just the photos to relate my travels. I have often found language fails me in my attempts to capture this journey and describe my experiences. One example of this is my overuse of the word ‘beautiful’ which, although it accurately describes most of the places I visit (particularly because I find beauty in everything from rocks to ocean to historical industrial landscapes), does not serve to distinguish between these places or really even provide much in the way of description.
On a deeper level, I have often felt like reducing my experiences to typed symbols on a web page not only inadequately expresses them but involves a type of definition and analysis of events that can remove me from the experience itself as well as separating me from the present moment. In addition to having an analytical mind by nature, I worked as an analyst in my former life and it has thus been a struggle to step away from this endless identification and categorization of events and the constant dissection of reality. But I am aware that this tendency not only removes me from my present reality but also prevents me from listening to myself and my intuition – which subsequently prevents me from using them to guide me on this odyssey.
And so, I have debated quite a bit about what to do with the blog, weighing my desire to step away from the analysis and rely on the visual as a way of relating my experience against the understanding of the usefulness of language and narrative. Over the past year I’ve had this conversation with five different people who know and understand me well and they’ve all had good advice – which was essentially to be true to my own understanding and representation of my journey. All but one said to just post photos if that’s what I wanted to do. The other person suggested I challenge myself to use words to communicate my understanding of the genuine and meaningful. But I was still left undecided. However, what I realized after having this conversation most recently is that these things are not mutually exclusive, that maybe I can use language to describe what I felt while relying on photos to relate my experience and what I saw. And so this post and the ones immediately following are an attempt to do both.
What this means is that for the next few blog entries I’m primarily going to just post photos of my experiences of the New Hampshire and Maine coast. There were places like the places I normally visit and there were places unlike the places I normally visit. There were some places I have stories for and there were some places I don’t. And finally, there were some places I know where I was and there were some places I didn’t bother to look: I drifted for a much of my time and I often found myself not needing to know where exactly it was. It just didn’t seem important. My days ended up simply as an exercise in presence and in recognizing the world around me. Just Being. Even when I was at an intended destination I was still just existing there, not feeling compelled to really know much more about it. Sometimes I didn’t even make it to the destination when I had one. But it never mattered because whatever I found myself doing or wherever I found myself to be was always perfect: I was in exactly the right place at exactly the right time. Simultaneously however it didn’t really matter if I was there or not: It wasn’t important whether I was idling in a construction zone, floating in the ocean, stirring my dinner while it simmered, or laying awake in the middle of the night. Everything was effortless. Everything was – and still is – fine exactly as it is. And so while you may or may not get that sense from any of my photos, they are, in addition to this blog post, what I have to offer you regarding my weeks there. It is both personal and lacking in narrative. And the way it feels best to share it with you.