What I’ve Lost

*Note: This post has been festering for a while. My mood has changed (for the better) since I started writing butI feel like I should go ahead and put this up as a reminder of those tough times.

From Nov-Dec. 2013

2013-11-03_07-51-15_614

Naturally, Autumn is a time of harvest, death, decay, hibernation and hopefully reflection. Maybe this explains my time of loss or perhaps it’s the astrological event of Mercury being in retrograde. I don’t completely understand this but several friends have mentioned it and supposedly, one should not make any big decisions or expect clarity. This is a time of large-scale change and uncertainty. Sounds about right.

No one close to me has died, fortunately, but since the end of October I’ve experienced loss in several ways. Here’s the short list:

  1. Job-seasonal work ended with the onset of cold weather and fatigue.
  2. Ability to run or climb due to IT band issues and tendonitis in my big toe
  3. Partial vision loss and a week of extreme migraines due to spontaneous onset of uveitis
  4. 12 hours of expelling everything from my body due to food poisoning while #3 was happening
  5. Steady home, albeit the truck has been my home through the field season but now is no longer feels like a justifiable (to myself) way to live and a steady parking spot for the camper has not been established
  6. Direction and purpose in life, due to all of the above

*I know these are mostly first world problems but still…

Through the loss, I’ve realized that I do not do well with injury or idle hands. No moss on this rolling stone or friends of the devil! I hadn’t realized how much I was wrapped up in physical activity until it came to an abrupt, forced halt. Thinking back on the summer, I can’t believe that I was able to hold the body together as long as I did. Starting in May, coming off an injury:

-I ran a mountain 50k (Jemez)

-Worked 10-14 hours a day in the desert while hiking 5-20 miles a day and living out of my truck, 10 days at a time, for 5 months

-Tried to continue training for races, while working, thus running 30-70 miles a week on top of work hikes (20-40+ miles per week)

-Ran another mountain 50k (Mt. Taylor) in September and went hard and bonked hard, thus causing extreme fatigue

-Continued working until the end of October

So, it seems like my body held out until the last days and then everything crashed at once, causing deep confusion and despair. I felt like I’d become the target of some cruel lesson arranged by “the Universe.”

Usually, these forced breaks are welcomed with a focus on other hobbies or physical activities but the current combination of losses seemed to strip everything away. And I couldn’t seem to gleam any type of lesson or find some deeper meaning from pain and loss. My optimism started to be tested to it’s limits and as the days went by with only being able to lay in my camper, parked in my friends driveway, eyes closed due to light sensitivity and migraines and body hurting from fatigue and injuries, I started to believe that there is no lesson to be harvested from this, only that sometimes life is shit and you just have to deal.

There are some certainties though: time is going to pass, there is nothing to stop it and this will bring about change of some kind.

After two months of little physical activity, things have started to improve. Vision is better and I can run a little bit but that whole purpose and meaning is still a lost idea, maybe it was never really there anyway. Actually, after reading this now (I started writing this a few weeks ago) I can see I’m doing much better. I was in a pretty nasty spot back then.

When one is near the bottom and about to explode, perhaps the only way to go is deeper and let it all blow up. I don’t think I completely hit bottom or really blew up, more like a slow trickle in different directions, but I’m starting to gain steam. Most of the illnesses have resolved, at least I’m just dealing with injuries that I think I can manage. As the new year is upon us, I have quite a few new ideas for projects and adventures. These may not involve as much travel or running but the possibilities are exciting.

2014 thinking: lots more climbing, especially adventure mountain climbing (barely did any climbing in 2013), bikepacking (almost have my bike built up), backpacking (several trips in mind), writing and recording more music, building stuff including a physical base/home, motorcycle touring and growing in all ways.

Perhaps there will be a late season harvest after all.

As my great uncle Sheal (and Taoist philosophy) use to say, “keep moving forward.”

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