Nine months. Nine months and a week, actually. 40 weeks: that will be the ultimate span of this #RunningTo road trip.
Before I left southern California last May, I had no clue how long the road would wind. Your guess would have been as good as mine. Two months? Seven? Seventy times seven?
The longer I ventured and the more I saw, the more my mouth fell agape; the longer I ventured and the more people I met, the more amazed I grew by humanity’s collective beauty.
The longer I ventured, the less I wanted this trip to end. I still don’t want to see that finish line, if I’m being honest. I’ve made it back to my parents’ house in Georgia, my old home of yesterlife, and more than anything right now I don’t want #RunningTo to run out.
My road trip finally ends this weekend, and I’m terrified.
I suppose I could continue wandering if I really wanted to. There’s the whole matter of money, but I could always do those repetitive online surveys or work on a farm or simply become a New York Times bestseller ASAP.
But more than mere finances, I recognize the need for stability. Though the past year has been the most community-filled of my life, it’s been “community” with a twist — a dynamic sort of community that revolves and rotates, changes, every other day and week.
My journeys have taken me to some beautiful communities coast-to-coast. I’ve been welcomed into many folds as one of their own, time and again — only for me to pack up my Mitsy and hit the road once more.
It kills you after a while. Seeing authentic community in action and confidently involving yourself for one or two days because there are no strings attached. You ride into town and park your horse and have a few drinks and double the stories and laughs, and then you saddle up for the next tantalizing horizon.
I mentioned in a recent post that I don’t entirely know who I am anymore. I do believe I’m a better person than I was a year ago: a stronger person, a more capable person, a more loving and understanding person.
Those things may indeed be true, but I’m also a person who hasn’t experienced regular community for nearly a year now. This is also true, and it is such a strange thing to admit. A bizarre reality to awaken to morning after morning, month after meandering month.
As much as I’ve grown over the last nine months, I have no idea how I’ll do reentering the “real world” once again. Will I have nervous breakdowns on a daily basis? Will I forget everything I learned before this road trip? Will I yearn for the open road mere moments after unloading my vehicle?
Will I be okay?
As one final #RunningTo adventure, I’m fleeing to a cabin in the Smokeys this weekend. I’ll be escaping technology and the world and ending this road trip the same way it started: alone in nature. Alone with God.
After nine months in two countries and four time zones, three particular cities have captured my heart and imagination. I feel strongly about each of these beautiful places, and it only follows I should move to one of them upon the conclusion of this road trip and start anew.
But which one?
How do you choose which Paradise you’d like to enter? Friends, believe me, that’s a devastating point I’ve been pondering for weeks and months now.
Tomorrow morning I’m sending a more detailed, probably more vulnerable newsletter to all my subscribers. I’ll be disclosing my three magical cities and elaborating more on my solo retreat in the Smokeys.
If you’re curious about these mysterious locations and you’ve not already joined my fold, you can do so here. I’d love to share this new leg of the journey with you.
To close . . . I’m reminded of a clip from one of my favorite movies:
“End of the line, Sonny Jim,” Van Pelt tells his prey, gun pointed. “Start running.”
“No,” Alan says, unyielding.
“Aren’t you afraid?”
“I’m terrified,” Alan concedes. “But my father told me you should always face what you’re afraid of.”
Something about the way Robin Williams says I’m terrified has always given me chills. So sincere and matter-of-fact and yet altogether confident of the new person he’s become.
No more running. The running is done.
I’ve been running for a long time now. As much as I’d like to proclaim nine months of a triumphant running to, I concede nine months of a cowardly running away as well. It’s clear now, here at the end, looking back on this mystical journey stretching from the Grand Canyon to the Smokeys.
I’ve run away from old relationships. Left text messages and phone calls go unanswered for days, weeks.
I’ve run away from responsibilities. Put off work and writing for another day and another yet.
I’ve run away from God. Neglected time with Him in pursuit of distraction and adventure.
If you were to point a gun at me right now and ask if I’m afraid, I would respond with a familiar quiver: “I’m terrified.”
I’m terrified, but I don’t want to run away from my fear. I want to face what I’m afraid of. This Friday, I face my fears in the Smokeys.
This weekend, my road trip ends.
Next week, my story breathes anew.