Written 1 August from a tent in Barkerville, British Columbia.
The narrative of 2020 is one of loss and longing.
Loss of plans, jobs, health, life.
Longing for reprieve, longing for our missed families, longing for the stability we just had, longing for equality that should be widespread.
Each person I speak to has their own version. Their own set of plans tossed aside by a global pandemic, their own cancelled departure dates, their own job insecurity or financial loss, and my friends of colour – their own tales of prejudice.
However different, as a little sign by the side of a highway kilometres from anywhere significant read today, we’re in this together. But our individual stories are no less insignificant, or worthy of being told and listened to. Telling our own version validates our sadness, frustration, anxiety, loneliness – whatever emotions you’ve gravitated to in this season.
I write this to mark my own lost milestone: the day I was due to fly to Australia and meet my niece. Instead I’ve driven 9 hours and cowering in my 1.5 person tent away from the mosquitoes. (I arrived too late to bother with a campfire. I’ve repurposed the 2 weeks of vacation time (that’ll be annual leave for the folk reading from downunder) and embarked on a solo road trip in northern British Columbia.
“You’re going alone?!” was an exclaim I heard countless times as I chatted about my road trip. Followed by a string of questions around safety, or just statements of the same effect: “That’s grizzly country.”
Yes, I’ll be solo for the next 2 weeks and it equal parts terrifies and excites me. I’ve done solo travel before, back when airplanes and world travel was all the rage. When global mobility was a 21st century assumption not a privilege. I have always gravitated to the edge of my comfort zone. 29 years of experimenting has demonstrated it’s where my biggest personal growth usually comes from. But of course, solo travel in the wilderness is the backbone of countless films as some dear friends reminded me. (Be assured I’m largely car camping with a few jaunts up some mountains with a Garmin inReach in tow). So yes, it’s terrifying but it’s balanced with excitement from exploring another part of the world, more mountains, lakes and time to breathe.
Truth be told I’ve been quarantining and working from home alone for the better part of 5 months so I don’t see a great deal of difference (except for a great deal more wildlife that can kill me). I’ve had a few summer adventures and a few more planned with friends, but on this first day of the eighth month of the year I find myself somewhat exhausted. Again, a shared narrative of many.
For a few months life was like being stuck on a treadmill, running in the same place. Everything was via a computer. Church + community group were online. Those computer glasses I put off getting back in January would have been very useful now. Alas. (As JB puts it, we were all trying to work out which way to go or not go.) Later I literally and figuratively got back to running, I felt like I hit a stride. We had a direction at work, after months of unknown I received my Permanent Residence to Canada, the first of summer plans, community group was a comfort. But then slowly the running stopped, the working from home started to feel like living at work and online church was getting old. I lamented with a friend, “I just miss good worship.” I pre-recorded my third church service of COVID but when Sunday rolled around I couldn’t bare to watch myself. I pushed ahead. But eventually I knew, I was returning an old pace of life but with so much uncertainty, so much loss, so much longing.
August 2nd, 2020
And so here I am horizontal in my single person tent, again, having survived a thunderstorm as I arrived into camp. Stepping outside of your comfort zone is about the perseverance to put up a tarp in a thunderstorm. It’s acknowledging the longing for someone to help you, the longing to have someone who is just always able to help but not dwelling on it. It’s the tiredness that comes from driving 1300km in 2 days with largely trees, lakes, trucks (utes) and semis (trucks) and closed storefronts on repeat knowing the joy that is to come.
In the monotony I remember the simplicity. Is that what I long for? Simplicity? Or is it simplicity that we’ve lost?
I have 14 days (well, 12 left now) to ponder. 14 days to pray and seek freedom from a certain frantic faith. 14 days to forget the missed plans and enjoy new ones. Forgive me not sharing a play by play on IG. I’ll catch you up on trees, lakes and mountain tops later. For now, I’ll go dark to enjoy the simpler things and try and process what direction to run when I get home.