Me and Monty trying to be hip and take a selfie, I end up looking like a weird lady on the side of the road talking to herself, clutching a cat with a harness and a selfie stick. Exactly what I was.
Internal weather report: Kinda crappy but optimistic and confident.
There is this book called The 7 day Total Cleanse. This book is a detailed guide for a week-long juice cleanse and sort of personal vacation. The daily juices are aligned with the chakras, each day has a specific meditation, spa treatment and embarrassingly, an art project. Aside from the art projects, this book is incredibly rewarding for the spirit. It's aimed for an upper class spiritual lady with loads of free time and a kinda garden level in artistic skills. With that said, I would defend this book like a middle-school friend. It gave me some really important tools after a bad breakup. The daily meditations calmed my spirit and the cleanse dropped my fat by an amount I didn't even think was real or right, but I felt and looked amazing. Where I'm going with all of this is as I sit down to write this, in a Boston's Pizza in the middle of nowhere Canada, and with a giant “Boston's size” glass of I.P.A. I'm hoping will help my back pain, I am reminded of some of those tools I picked up from that arguably cheesy self-help book.
How does one talk to oneself, for instance? Besides a general uttering like, “Where in the world are my...” or what happens quietly upstairs in one's mind, I don't find myself very often, in conversations with, myself. Being alone these last few days, and with no one to bounce things off of or confide in, I've been doing the unspeakable. I've been talking to myself. I like it. You should try it, but in private.
In that book, there was this journal you were supposed to keep. Each morning (at 7am), you were to ask yourself what your “internal weather report” was at write about it. This related to the physical journey as well as emotional, because I found while doing the cleanse, they are very deeply intertwined. They will always effect the other. Not eating solid food for two days made my internal weather report on day three, “Cloudy with a chance of screw you”. I began to connect the dots between my physical and mental.
Sadly, we often aren't aware of what's going on inside of our own bodies. This sounds crazy when you think about it. Granted, we aren't usually depriving ourselves of solids. We are eating when we want, sleeping when we want. We don't really need to notice. So we don't. And then we go hiking for two days, or go on tour with our band. We are irritable and unsure why.
We hardly ever treat our physical bodies like a crazy girlfriend on a road-trip. “How are you? Do you need some water? Do you want to take a quick break for food?” Or even worse, we do hear our bodies and then ignore them. Ever fallen asleep at the wheel? Or pushed an injury so far you made it worse? We often don't respect our body's authority and that makes it very angry and then it ends up does evil things to us. Both of us.
Doing my internal weather report every morning formed a small habit, which I didn't always keep but can come back to. I know how to talk to myself. More importantly, I know how to verbalize my answers. This makes me self-sufficient for long period of times, in trying circumstances. I trust myself to undertake difficult en devours alone because I have a good relationship with myself in this way. I won't push myself if i'm too tired or hungry or injured. I also know what works best for me and I don't try to do what others do if it won't work.
I think another important thing to add is that this relationship is a balance. Some people listen to their bodies too much. They are scared and/or unwilling to push their limits or make that physical self uncomfortable. It's like they are in an abusive relationship and don't want to piss the other one off. One has to know oneself, but maybe, not too well. We also leave room for growth and surprise. It's not easy and requires time alone, concentration and maturity.
People always ask me why I like traveling alone. It's not incredibly common among my peers to go out alone and be self-sufficient (and happy) in an encompassing way. I've often wondered about this, but not too much. Why does it feel like people my age don't have as good of a relationship with themselves as they do with their social media accounts? That sounds tacky; But I think there is truth there, so I'll let it slide. I don't even want to limit this to my peers. My mom seems flabbergasted by my travel habits. I check in with her every day because I know she worries as any mom would. But it seems like there is this divide. She thinks I'm sacrificing something and she doesn't know why.
A few days before I left Fairbanks, I spoke to my dad on the phone. He brought up how I tend to travel alone. My dad is an incredibly observant and honest dude. His perspective is something to be respected. He told me that he didn't know anyone else who traveled as much as me. I corrected him, quickly. “Wil?” My brother is a professional skateboarder. He spends more time outside the U.S. Than in it. My dad paused for a moment and thought about what he meant. “No.” He paused again. I've come to love these pauses. I know something new is coming. “Wil doesn't travel like you do, Becca. He's always with someone.” We both kind of agreed with a grunt and then thought about it for a second. Neither one of us had ever formulated that specific thought before and didn't go into it unprepared.
As you can tell, my dad and I are a lot alike. He's the smartest, most in-touch person I know. I swear, he spent 70 years in some other life, meditating in the Himalayas. We both get noticeably excited by the things like a new special on The History Channel, a good speech t a graduation ceremony and a new thought that comes up in conversation that seems to pave a new road off to the left. We talk about things like WWII and oil prices on our phone conversations. We like to stew about things and come back to it. We don't need anyone else to help us, just engage us if we ask for it. We didn't talk about the subject in length, but I think when we get to it again in the future, we will have both brewed a batch of contemplation on the subject and be able to spend a while there.
So, back to the questions. Why do I travel alone? Do I get lonely? What do I do the whole time?
I travel alone because I like it. I feel more comfortable by myself and enjoy formatting my experience, solely. Truthfully, I don't get lonely. I think of people often and wonder what they are doing and occasionally wish I was with them. But, I never wish they were with me. I never feel so crazy I'll just pick up a hitchhiker to have someone to talk to, (I would pick them up, but from a good-hearted, helpfulness of course).
What do I do the whole time? Sometimes I think of the people I love and the things I love. I've noticed in myself that I have to be away from things to truly appreciate them. It sounds kind of unhealthy, but driving out of Fairbanks, I was balling because I was so thankful and felt so loved by my roommates and my close friends who made such an effort to spend time with me before I left. As I hugged them goodbye, I was calm as a cucumber. But, I couldn't stop hugging them in spirit as I drove away.
(I'd like to take this opportunity to thank each and every person who made me feel so loved as I departed my home: You know who you are. Thanks for making it incredibly difficult to leave.)
As I write my internal weather report for today, I have to admit, it wasn't an easy day. My back is hurting worse than ever. When I breathe deeply, I feel like I am being stabbed. I m not making as much progress as I had hoped and feel disappointed in myself. I haven't been sleeping well at night and only being able to catch around 4 hours due to Monty being nocturnal and fall asleep when he does, around 6am, putting me behind schedule. I'm worried about my back because it seems to be getting worse and making every day an conglomeration of moments in pain.
But, there is no way I could say today was a bad day. Are you kidding me!? I got to explore Canada, which has been a dream of mine for years. I am lucky enough to see this country during fall. I am speechless at how beautiful the side of the road is, the abandoned motels and gas stations, the wildlife (I'll come back to that). The people here are psycho-nice. I found myself physically recoiling towards this woman at the visitor's station in Watson Lake when she called me “love”. People always say this, so I hate to agree with them. But it's true. Even the music here is creepily optimistic all the time.
It reminds me of when I was in Edinburgh, Scotland. I was on this public bus, at 10pm, trying to find somewhere to sleep. We had initially tried the beach, but it was a wet mess. These thug kids got on and I thought, “Oh no. They are going to hit on me and give me trouble.” They ended up being the sweetest, most socially polite people I had come across so far. I would go as far as to call them gentlemen. That's what Canada is like. I will spend the next ten hours of my drive and next few conversations with my dad trying to figure out how they are so nice and Americans....not so nice.
I am content. That's how I would put it. And I think that's what all people are searching for. There's nothing worse than wanting to be happy and not knowing how. I think happiness comes from internal contentment for whatever reason. You have to do what makes you happy.
I can't predict the future, so I can only say that I hope when I fill out tomorrow's internal weather report, I will find the same deep, rolling, bubbling contentment I found today.
I have a feeling I will.
I sound Canadian already.