My Inner Worlds
John Denver’s song never made much sense to me when I was younger. At one point someone mentioned the high was from drugs, but I didn’t grow up in an environment that explained drugs and didn’t understand the connection. My family listened to John Denver because the lyrics were clean and safe for our conservative home.
Now that I’ve been in the Rocky Mountains for over 24 hours, I understand what John referred to—altitude sickness. I’m weathering it better than Matt is, but I still have to catch my breath if I walk too quickly while wearing my backpack. Last night I woke in a panic unable to breathe, but after realizing it was just the lower oxygen level creating that feeling in my body, I fell back asleep. Matt barely slept and isn’t handling the high very well.
This morning we drove down to Longmont to meet a friend for lunch at Sakura Japanese Cuisine (amazing food and wonderful owners). We were amazed at the difference in mental clarity and the ability to breathe. Estes Park, Colorado lies 7,500 feet above sea level. Longmont is at 5,000 feet. My precious husband and I are used to oxygen levels found at an elevation of 315 feet—a huge difference.
We are supposed to hike in the morning with another friend. I’ve already warned her that we need to enjoy a nature walk or a mild hike. Matt thinks we can handle a real hike, but I’m not so sure. Maybe I’ll get to post pictures of one of us fallen to the dirt trail or having to be fed oxygen in the back of an ambulance.
Four years ago we successfully climbed the Alamos Vista Trail near Santa Fe, New Mexico, a hike that began at 10,000 feet above the sea and ended at 11,100 feet. So what has changed? Does age make that much of a difference? Are we really that out of shape compared to our 44-year-old selves? My goodness, but this makes me rethink my lifestyle choices. I work at a desk (and love my job), I write in a comfy chair, I play Dungeons and Dragons once a month—again in my comfy chair. And I practice yoga two to three times a week. Possibly I don’t have enough cardio in my physical activity.
Tune in post-vacation to see how I mix it up exercise-wise. Something has to change if Matt and I are going to hike Machu Picchu next spring. We have seven months to kick it into gear so we aren’t passing out in the Andes.
When Hurricane Florence became a real threat to the Carolinas last weekend, I pretended to not care for one whole day. Then a deep-seated panic gripped me, and I joined the throngs at the grocery store to find only empty shelves. We were still over four days from predicted landfall, and supplies had already sold out. I returned to the store every day at different times, buying what little had come in from delivery trucks since my prior scavenging. Were we prepared enough? How could you ever prepare for the unpredictable nature of a storm? Do we need to evacuate? We live in a flood plain and everyone says we should leave, so why doesn’t Matt seem affected? My incredible rock of a husband told me I could lean on him—that we’d be fine. And we are. My fear drained much of my energy this week, and I’ve determined it’s just not worth it to live like this anymore.
For the past four years, I have consciously worked on facing my fears. I stopped writing creatively at that time because a gripping terror waited for me two paragraphs into a new story. In order to embrace my writing, I had to leave it for a while. During this break I’ve used various tools to delve into my psyche to understand why I freeze in terror, like I’m that little girl again who can’t control the dangerous environment she hides within. Each method of self-exploration has been deeper, grittier, and has taken me to places that I couldn’t have touched without the previous tool that got me to the next level. I’ve made phenomenal progress in 2018 with integrating parts of myself that either fractured when I was a young child or that I just couldn’t have reached without doing my inner exploration. So why did I still feel crippling terror this past week even as the sun shone overhead in a clear blue sky?
My friend Sherrie Dillard posted the following on FaceBook two days ago:
I took the invitation and determined I would use Hurricane Florence to overcome this fear of inclement weather and storms. As the hurricane made landfall, a realization came to me that storms are like the void where I create. I’ve panicked for many years when I see that darkness where my writing takes me. It really looks like a void, an emptiness that is actually filled with possibility. The paradox where my creative being yearns to free herself, but my conscious self fears to enter, much less linger and play with the potential that exists there.
Knowing this creative void is truly what I have feared, and not a weather scenario, I hope the next opportunity to experience ice, a flood, or whatever else Mother Nature brings, will find a calmer Me, a more accepting emotional place. Maybe I will learn to channel the ferocity of a storm and weave a beautiful flow of delight and tension into a fictional place where many may find refuge.