On Trying, Failing, and the Expectations We Set For Ourselves

Photo by  Keith Fine

Photo by Keith Fine

I spent the Spring preparing myself for a road trip, one I would take alone, across desert plains, up mountain passes, along coastal beaches, and into the depth of what alone truly means to me.

I knew what this trip would entail. I spent the months before it making playlists for the hard and rough moments, gathering podcasts to help pass the long hours on the road, and buying all the dromedary bags, coolers, lanterns, and clothes I would need. And yet there was no way I could be prepared for what this trip was.

By the third day on the road, I realized that any expectations I had would be thrown out the window. Shooting every day, sunrise to sunset, hikes alone into the wilderness, sleeping wherever I could legally park my 3 ton Land Rover no longer became my main intent. Instead, it was about getting through the day without being overcome with anxiety, something I've lived with for my entire life, but something that became worse every day I was on the road.

Being alone without cell phone service became a new kind of alone. There is no social media to engross yourself in, no family or friends to call when you need reassurance, no looking at memes or baby animals to help soothe the soul. It is just you and the books you deliberately picked out to help get you through these moments. It is just you, standing underneath the worlds tallest trees, looking out over the ocean, and the ever expanding and seemingly endless road.

So my trip became something different. It became engrossing myself into books every evening as the sun set, learning that there are nights when, no matter how long you try to start a fire, sometimes the wood will just not light. It became crossed fingers every time I turned my car on, sending out "I'm alive!" texts every time I got cell service, and trying to distract my mind from thinking, "what the fuck have I done". 

Which I thought every morning I woke up. Every morning began with this mindset- "what have I done", and yet every morning I got myself up and on the road again. To see more, explore more, experience more. 

So set your expectations. But don't be surprised when the world says fuck you, throws your plans out the window, and shows you a new kind of alone.