I know we're supposed to have 'a cup that runneth over,' but I've always been a nonconformist. Well, that and overly inclined to bite off more than I can chew. I have a bucket. Because I live where I do, my bucket is usually full to overflowing simply because all I have to do is look outside. Zing! Instantly joyful to the brim.
This weekend, however, I decided to immerse myself completely. Thanks to D. M. McReynolds (you are awesome!), I left for parts unknown, happy that my blog was in good hands. I left all writing implements behind, suited up in hiking boots and long underwear, slipped into waterproof outerwear, and spent two days hiking my little heart out. In the rain. The fog. Brilliant bursts of sunshine. The vastness and the closeness vied for dominance in my brain: Grand vistas stretched for miles, and once on top or on a point or on a bare ridge, all you had to do was turn and look and be amazed. At other times, deep in clumps of tag alder and the crimson leaves of huckleberry plants, you couldn't see beyond the leaf or branch in front of you. The majority of my time was spent in the dense foliage, pushing through wiry branches and tripping over the hidden ones snaking about at ground level. Even this was glorious, with the sweet scent of spruce and elderberry and moss producing a heady mixture of happiness.
Oddly, it was in the midst of a particularly difficult section of trail that I stumbled upon a sequence for unraveling a gnarled bit of plot in Conscripted. The harder I pushed myself on the trail, the clearer this portion of my book appeared. Sometimes, getting away from it all produces the best results. Sometimes, physical exhaustion produces hallucinations. I contend, however, that it is the beauty of nature, the scent of pristine wilderness, the mountains that stretch forever...they unlock a piece of humanity that we've tucked away deep inside, the part we've told ourselves that we've 'evolved' past, the sliver that unites us with the universe at large and its Creator, the best part of who we are.
So, here I am, back in the midst of humanity, getting ready for another Monday on the job... and filled to the brim with equal parts joy and soreness, giddiness and exhaustion. My bucket is full to overflowing, and I can't wait to get home again to start working on my novel. Some days it feels like we're fighting through the tag alder, unable to see anything beyond the branch that just slapped back into our faces -- but it's all worth the struggle once we make it to the top: the chance to look back where we've come from and to look ahead to where we're headed makes every hike worth the welts.