I’ve managed to maintain a good mood now for about a week and a half. I got a boost from my most recent trip to Nicolet National Forest, and have been supplementing that boost with various distractions.
The Forest Effect
Last week Wednesday, Remy and I made a third trip up to Nicolet in two months. The night before, I reached out to my “former” therapist and asked to schedule an appointment to talk. During the drive up to Nicolet, I was thinking about the things that I wanted to tell her. That drove me even further down into the dumps – to the point of tears. But upon our arrival at Nicolet, it seemed as though a light switch had been turned on.
The Forest has an effect on me. Don’t ask me to explain it. I don’t understand it myself, yet. I just know that it’s about more than just relaxation and unwinding. There is some strange connection between me and the Forest.
This isn’t exactly news to me. I noticed this effect throughout my road trip, and during each of my previous visits to Nicolet. But the consistent results comfort me in knowing that the effect isn’t just in my imagination.
Granting Myself Permission to Loaf
Part of the stress I was experiencing was because of the pressure I felt to address dwindling funds by getting a new job. I still intend to find work, and preferably sooner than later.
However, my road trip was intended to last six months. I was supposed to be unemployed for more than six months.
Because my trip ended early, I came in under budget since I only had to buy food for five weeks and not six months. But I also incurred rent and other expenses much earlier than I expected (and I still have to buy food now). So big picture, I am way over-budget for these six months, and it is important that I bring in some income and/or change my living conditions to require less expense.
But since I was supposed to be unemployed for six months, I’ve released myself from this obligation to find work immediately. Instead, I’m using this time to plan my future and work on a few other projects I neglected during my excursion. Sure, I’m still keeping an eye out for work opportunities, but I’m not going to put pressure on myself to find work for a few more months.
With that in mind, I’ve been distracting myself with various projects. I finally got my road trip photos organized (I’ll post them next). I’ve been sorting and updating my music library. I’ve started work on about a half dozen new corpse projects. I decided to bring the forest into my home and bought a bunch of plants to grow indoors. And I’ve been getting patches added to my battle jacket.
All of these projects have helped distract me from the fact that I’m back in Green Bay, cooped up in this apartment.
Washington or Bust?
I’ve become almost single-minded about moving to the Olympic Peninsula. I’m nervous because that desire is informed by just the few short days I spent there. It’s also an incredibly long distance from here, and I have no friends or family out there.
But the longer I remain in Green Bay, the more difficult it will be for me to afford to move. I’m even considering breaking my lease early to just go out there. And despite my trepidation, I really have to ask myself – what’s the worst that can happen to me if I move out there? Even if the O.P. doesn’t quite live up to my expectations, am I really going to be worse for wear than if I stay here?
Then there are my friends… my haunt family. Admittedly, I’ve got a questionable history with them having walked off haunt projects three times in two years. And to date, we haven’t really made any concrete plans about future collaboration. I can’t wait around here indefinitely to see if we actually do something.
On the other hand, no one in our group banged the drum louder than I about having a future together and committing to the shared goal of doing haunt work full-time. What kind of hypocrite am I to make that case and then leave the state a few short months later?
What prompted this concern is that one of my friends has asked me to travel with him to Kansas in two weeks to attend a party hosted by a mutual acquaintance. It’s going to be a long drive, and I can’t imagine that he and I won’t use the opportunity to discuss business.
What do I tell him? “Yes, I badly want to continue working with this group, but I also want to skip town and head out to the other side of the country”?
Within the group, there is near unanimity that none of us wants to remain in Wisconsin. I think we all have the same attitude about this state being a dead end for us. But the rest of the group has friends and family in Wisconsin. And two of them have friends and family in Florida. Literally as far away in the opposite direction from Washington as you can get.
For the rest of the group, leaving Wisconsin is more of an anywhere-but-here goal. The other group members aren’t as misanthropic as I am. They’re more willing to go east toward denser populations than I am (which makes perfect sense from a business perspective). I, on the other hand, am not looking to settle just anywhere. I’ve got a particular place in mind to relocate to. And it’s way the fuck on the other side of the country. I can’t reasonably expect my friends to leave their lives and follow me out there.
Apologies for Rambling
I realize that I have written brain dumps, internal emotional turmoil, and rambling trains of thought into the majority of my blog posts since returning to Green Bay.
Before I left on the road trip, this blog was a lot more focused and disciplined. I was careful to address specific issues with regard to travel, making life changes, and more. And during my trip, my blog posts were mostly… about the trip.
I don’t like these sorts of rambling posts. When I re-read these posts later, they embarrass me.
But long-term travel has a profound impact on people, as it has had on me. I think that the impact travel has had on me has been complicated by my particular experiences and other forces at work in my particular life. But it affects everyone.
For me, personally, I’m blogging this turmoil because it helps me organize my thoughts. I’d be an even bigger mess if I didn’t have this blog as an outlet to regurgitate everything I’ve got bottled up.
But because you’re reading this, you’re able to witness some of the emotional aftermath that long term travelers go through. Not that I want to scare you or discourage you from making life changes of your own. But it would be irresponsible of me to hide the downsides to all of this.
If you’re going to quit your job and sell your stuff and spend time travelling – you’re going to have some amazing experiences that you’ll cherish for the rest of your life. You’ll grow as a person, learn about others, learn about yourself, set better priorities, and all sorts of good stuff. But there’s a dark side to all of this, too. You don’t have to avoid it, but you do need to be prepared for it.