Come Out Of The Hills

On January 15, 2010, in Lifestyle, by Meghan

Frozen Black Bear and Coyote foot prints go one way on the John Muir Trail, Yosemite National Park (November, 2009).

Most bloggers have already well-published their 2009 retrospective and 2010 goal posts, and they’ve also moved on to bigger and better 2010 topics. That my “2009, Goodbye, 2010, Welcome!” post is 2 weeks late is no surprise to me. By this time, if you’re a Meghan’s Crooked Trails reader, you’re probably not surprised by my inaction-to-belated action either.

2009 for me was a year of wrong-way wandering with the good-est of intentions. I think it has something to do with being unaware of the path in front of my eyes and trying to buck a path that just is. I just can’t seem to get my grippy little fingers around a great explanation yet, but the best analogy I have for the moment is the above photo. It’s as if the world around me has been moving in one direction, swooping and smooth, and I the other in choppy, inexplicable spurts.

A majority of the issue origin I know is the immense lifestyle disparity that has existed between most of the world and I. Since September of 2000, when I moved to my first national park, the remote Big Bend in Texas, I have been pretty damn close to treading water in the far margins of modern culture. And, I have done so with full-heart joy. Our far-distant national park world was, simply said, the exquisite wild and the friendship and love of others within it.

My life is now different, and it changed in a matter of just 2009.

I now work in a culturally-connected national park. National park workers are carrying around smart phones, writing educational podcasts, advertising jobs on social media, and spreading news by way of blogs. National parks are for the first time in a long time trying to become relevant to modern Americans. This is a wonderful turn of events for our country’s wild places, but one that is new to most of us.

Also, call my home rural California all you want, but it’s not even close. Yosemite National Park hosted 3.9 million visitors in 2009; we are infiltrated by humanity. I now have to drive about an hour to access federally-designated wilderness. In my other two national park homes, I could walk there in a matter of moments. That is, modern culture in this place is not “over there,” it’s right here.

Finally, my boyfriend is probably the most culturally-connected human being with whom I have ever interacted. The nature of many of our interactions are, thus, rooted in modern culture. Bless his patient heart because I can’t tell you how many times I’ve injected the following into a conversation, “Wait a second, what does that mean?” with reference to some piece of technology that is inherent to him.

That is to say that, all the way into my home, I have been doused in modernity.

In 2009, I feel as if I’ve been sometimes standing still on a busy Tokyo street, with thousands of people walking in the same direction around me. On that street, there’s a collective energy moving towards something, and I’m letting it flow all around me while I do nothing. Other times, I feel like a salmonid, fighting, flailing its way upstream by an instinctual response. As in, I don’t know why I’m traveling in the opposite direction as everyone, I just am.

I can’t do this forever, do nothing or resist. I would eventually be left behind! I also can’t turn and walk in the same direction as everyone else, just because. I would find myself utterly lost. Out there somewhere must be a happy medium, though, maybe one wherein I’m moving in the same direction as others, but I’m doing it whilst hopping, skipping to the beat of my own drum. In 2010, I hope to, at my own pace, come down out of the proverbial hills and join the world.

Junebug the Border Collie and Meghan come down from the Chisos Mountains, Big Bend National Park (September, 2004).

11 Responses to “Come Out Of The Hills”

  1. Gretchen says:

    Aw, I love this retrospective. (And if it makes you feel any better, I haven't gotten mine up yet, either.)
    I think you are one who is good at following her heart, and that will lead you down the crooked trail in exactly the direction meant for Meghan.
    Good luck with everything in 2010. I look forward to some more trail time with you!

  2. Sunshine Girl says:

    But wait…where's Waldo?

    Kidding of course, but I loved the photo and the analogy. I can't imagine what a culturally challenging year it has been for you, adapting to being thrown back in to the herd and adapting to a life of change, change and change with a side of challenge and spice. But Change is Good, right? This a great little read, full of thought and intelligence, just like Ms. Meghan!

    P.S. I'm glad you only feel like a Samonid….and don't look like one. 2010 is going to be AWESOME, I think you are up for the challenge!

  3. olga says:

    Who cares about retro and extra and other spective? Live life and be happy! What you are really good at:)

  4. JeffO says:

    I've already dealt with a personality split. I was always an outdoors guy. Technology came later, but somehow I'm a natural at that.
    The problem is my two personalities don't coexist very well within me. I used to have a couple of superhuman outdoors traits. Those traits are dulled. The more time I spend in technology, the worse my instincts get.
    Technology is the opposite of nature and it tries to suck the natural life out of me.
    The only choice is to leave the two estranged. I'm polarized within myself. Each personality works fine on their own. The more separate I keep them, the better off I am.
    That's why I spent a few days camping and reading in the icy winter a couple weeks ago. My tent is my monastery away from the office.

    You will certainly work it out artfully. You always do.

  5. Bob - says:

    Happy New Year Meghan ! I think we need to catch up huh, geesh been a long time.

    Best wishes to you on a healthy, happy and prosperous 2010'- keep those trails crooked and keep doing your thang' πŸ™‚

    Call me or email a good time this year –haha to catch up!

  6. Rick Gaston says:

    It has been a new world for you and you have been making your way in it, bit by bit, inch by inch. Go, go Meghan, do what feels right even if it ends up being a way opposite everyone elses'…go anyway. In the dark, when things get tough, a question will come up from deep within – "are we going the right way, is this right", you want to be able to answer that, whether or not it's the same way as everyone else is going. Come down the proverbial hills or not, it's where your heart leads you. I go where my heart takes me. Screw everyone else.

  7. Meghan says:

    Good morning friends, thank you for the kind responses!

    Gretchen- I think that that I'm guided by both my heart and simple gut instinct. Neither are much, ever wrong. Yes, more trail time in 2010, please! πŸ™‚ Thanks for your thoughts!

    Leslie- Change is good, change happens, embrace change. The easiest kind of change to undergo is that which comes from within, so that's the perspective I'm trying to take. Also, I'm glad I don't look like a salmonid either, and Waldo is back in Canyonlands! πŸ˜‰ Looking forward to adventures with Leslie in 2010!

    Olga- You're right. Additionally, if it's taken me this much time to gain the 20-20 vision of 2009, then that's fine and dandy, too. I hope to see you in 2010!

    Jeff- That's a great way to be able to tackle the two sides of your life, full immersion either way! Here's to a 2010 that you're hoping for!

    Bob- No matter, the trails will always be somewhat crooked over in these parts. I will set a 2010 goal of getting back into contact with you, though I'm pretty sure my last call to you went unreturned. πŸ˜‰ Happy new decade and year!

    Rick- I think you're right on every account. I'm definitely going at my own pace, and, relatively speaking, in my own direction. But, in order to thrive in every aspect of my world, including my job, I must adapt and learn! I don't think that's going to compromise who or what I am and stand for. And, if it does, I will have to take a fresh look at things. Thank you for the push to do what's right FOR ME, and happy 2010 TO YOU! πŸ™‚

  8. Backofpack says:

    You'll figure it out Meghan, because it's really a matter of following your heart and feeding your soul and I think you know how to do that! Our son could have written a similar retrospective – living on an organic/sustainable farm in TN, with solar power and outhouses, trying to keep a small, small footprint and yet stay connected to those of us far away.

  9. elizabeth says:

    Happy New Year Meghan!

    I know how lucky I am to be minutes from my running trails. Having to drive an hour to the trails would not be ideal. Hope you are working it out for you so you can get your running in and feel good!

    I feel out of touch here in the middle of nowhere Montana. I know the day will come when I'll have to immerse myself back into "modern culture" and I'm both excited and apprehensive. Its great your boyfriend is helping you out with the technology, etc. Do you think you'll stay in CA? What is your job at Yosemite?

  10. Danni says:

    Does this mean you're going to join Facebook? πŸ™‚

  11. Meghan says:

    Backofback- I can totally empathize with your son and the dichotomy of his life! Wow, thanks for sharing his story!

    Elizabeth- I suppose my post wasn't totally clear. I can run on trail with about a 5 minute drive. However, it takes about an hour to get to a true, federally designated wilderness area. I'll bet you simultaneously feel out of touch but enjoy it as well! That's at least the way I feel! Good luck to you and your similar challenges.

    Danni- Maybe. We'll see. I don't know how people have time for Facebook?! How do you have time for Facebook, you must be WAY more busy than me? I guess I like my sleep! πŸ˜‰

    Be well, all, and thanks for the commiserations! πŸ™‚

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