Coming back to the same place after seven months of a life-changing, life-expanding, mind-opening journey is weird, to say the least. It makes those months seem like a dream—a waking one, but still a dream. The biggest questions upon re-entry (for me, anyway) are how you hold onto that experience to make it real, how you carry forward the best elements of it, and how to keep the journey going instead of an abrupt stop at a dead end.
These are not easy questions to answer.
I miss the dramatic landscapes of New Zealand. I miss watching the sun set over Lake Wanaka into the mountains of Mount Aspiring. I miss sleeping in my station wagon on an empty beach or the banks of a river or at the next trailhead. I miss being on the trail. God, I miss skiing with a view of blue lakes and the Southern Alps.
I miss my friends I met there. Soul sisters & brothers made all the closer for the time spent in the wild, for the road trips, for the adventures, the impromptu dance parties, the post-yoga conversations over a glass of wine and lingering at the dinner table. I miss meeting new people every day.
Of course Montana is a beautiful place to come home to. I love catching up with my friends over long mountain bike rides and hikes, on the rivers, and over hoppy Montana beer. I love seeing my sister every day, and watching my one-year-old nephew learn how to shake it to our favorite tunes and climb all over my canine soulmate of a dog.
So why then, coming back to this beautiful place full of beautiful people with such a depth of relationships, do I still feel like something’s missing? Something so big that it almost leaves me in tears, making it hard to remember why I even came back?
Here’s the one thing I’m clinging to in the hopes of filling this void: I want to always be the person I became over the last seven months. The one where every instance is an opportunity to be the best person possible: smart, strong, capable, kind. I want to find new adventures in the wild. I want to keep challenging myself physically and intellectually. I want to surround myself with people living creatively.
I want more moments than not to be chances to grow, to live, to feed my wild heart and free my soul.
But in this moment, in this coffee shop I’ve sat in countless times over the years in a town that feels too much the same—right down to the smoky wildfire pall right on cue in mid-August—my wild heart feels caged and the road feels like a dead end.
Thoughts and advice, as always, are more than welcome.