I’m in a state of inertia, paralyzed by fear.
That’s what I realized yesterday, after filling out about a hundred different forms, applying for a program that would allow me to stay and work in the US for one more year. At the same time as I was working on my college classes assignments, working on my book, working on… You see, being paralyzed doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t do anything. I’ve been more productive in the past years than in my entire life before combined. Yet, I always feel like I should be doing more, doing better, doing… Is this what they call high-functioning anxiety?
I’m in a state of inertia, paralyzed by fear, yet I can’t slow down and take a rest. It’s the exact opposite of that time I was in the Eastern Sierras at the beginning of this year. To ease my anxiety during those days, I love to recall this one evening there…
In the late afternoon, I headed north from Mammoth Springs, going back to the spot neat Lake Mono that had been my home for the two previous nights. The tops of the mountains were blasted by high winds that swept the snow off them, bringing it down in a beautiful wild dance.
By the time I made it back ‘home,’ the sun had disappeared beyond the mountains. It got cold. Of course it got cold, it’s the Sierras in March.
I could hear the wind up above, tering through every crevace of the majestic peaks. But it was quiet down where I was. It was quiet and calm, only the occasional breeze brought a bit of chill down from the mountains.
I made myself dinner — bread with tomatoes and a bit of salt, hot tea and chocolate-chip dunkers, and watched the sky change colors from my bed through the back windows of the van. The two only clouds in the sky created the most curious shape and turned pink from the setting sun which disappeared for me about an hour before.
I didn’t want to sleep just yet. I wanted a companion — however much I loved the solitude I was experiencing there, I wanted to feel a friend’s warm touch. So I dug a shallow hole in the sand, and made a little fire to keep me company through the cold evening.
It was dancing under the darkening sky, until there wasn’t anything else than the two of us, the mountains, and a billion stars. Then, slowly, even the warm touch of the fire faded as it, too, went to sleep together with the world.
I took care of it, making sure it wouldn’t run wild into the wilderness, and retreated to my bed. Everything was calm, except for the wind that found its way down from the peaks and was now blowing past the windows. I wasn’t doing anything, but it didn’t feel like I wasn’t doing enough. After all, even the nature surrounding me took a break sometimes.
I let the wind sing me to sleep, experiencing what I can describe only as absolute peace…
I look back at those moments often nowadays. The memory helps me calm my breath and thoughts whenever they get overwhelming. It helps me realize that before I can start moving again, I have to let go of my fears and anxieties. The countless experiences I’ve had out in the wild remind me over and over again that I can adapt easily and that there’s nothing I can’t deal with, nothing that can bring me down. They all boil down to the most basic lesson I could have learned: stay calm. Calm like the world that put you to sleep on that night. Although turbulent, it was calm and collected.
Maybe I’ve decided to share this today because it’s November 3rd, the election day. I don’t like politics, but I’d be lying if they weren’t inlfuencing my life greatly. And as well as they influence my life, they influence the life of our wildest places, places that shouldn’t have to worry about politics at all. I’m only praying the result will be such that will allow those places stay wild and free. That will allow them to continue teaching us the most important lessons. That will allow them to be home for those who need one.
Sending all my love to all of you.
More from Eastern Sierras:
A Cold Morning | Betsy in the Eastern Sierras
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