Free.

Ever since returning home from my two-day road trip with Andrea & Ava, I have had this unsettled feeling. Not in an anxious way, but in a hungry way. The comforts of life that I used to find in my home, I now experience in my car, on the road, & in the unkempt wilderness. Exploring & wandering, whether in a prickly forest or a wide open plain, is so freeing & empowering. I felt like I was let off of my leash for two days just to roam with my girls in tow. I relate to those dogs on the loose without a care in the world, wagging their tails aggressively in unapologetic happiness as they approach strangers with satisfying glee, rolling around in the sensation of new grass with the fresh scent of freedom wrapping around them from nose to tail.

We have all seen these carefree animals, roaming the sidewalks or navigating through traffic in the middle of the road. Their shiny tags dangling from their neck, branded with their name,  remind us that they aren’t where they belong. That they are far from home. That they are lost. But, I confess, that I have never seen a loose dog, wearing a collar, who appeared to be unhappy. Maybe where they are is where they belong. They may be far from home, but maybe they aren’t actually lost. They are just taking a vacation from fetch to run into the unknown. Their eyes are full of curiosity’s fire, their tongues dangle lifelessly to the side as their lungs attempt to keep up with their strides, & their tails are creating enough wind power to illuminate an entire city. They are free.

The next time you see a dog on the loose, watch what happens when he is put back on a leash. His eyes dim as that fire of curiosity burns out, replaced instantly with hungry, longing, distant gazes. My heart resonates with the dogs who were put back on their leashes, as I have come back from two days on the road to the reality of work & responsibilities. My eyes are hungry, my heart is eager. I want to do, see, & explore more, & I am not ready to be home yet. I want to keep driving. I crave the open road & the wilderness that lingers in its wake. My heart seems to beat in harmony with those neighborhood dogs on the run, our widened eyes & canyons of curiosity guiding each step. 

I absolutely love my job, but my first day back to work after galavanting around in the forest for two days, was difficult for my spirit. I had to remind myself, more than once, that this job is supplying my means for living full-time on the road by next summer. I have to remind myself that the only time dreams ever happen overnight is when we are sleeping… achieving dreams requires dedication, sacrifice, drive, strength, & time. I can’t sit still & expect circumstances to change on their own, I have to make it happen. I have to hustle. I have to work harder. 

I can feel in my soul that I am building something, even though I can’t tell exactly what that is yet. I know that every drop of sweat, & every tear of joy & sorrow, is watering a tiny, yet powerful, seed. A seed that has survived droughts in creativity & floods of imagination, desperate to find the careful balance of exposure that fosters growth. This delicate seed is finally starting to break free & peek through the soil, a valuable reward for tending to its needs over the years. I know when it blooms, what a masterpiece it will be. I will forget how tirelessly I cultivated that seed for days that turned into years, because I will only be able to cherish & treasure the beauty of the blossom.  

Crawling into bed exhausted, reeking of dirt, sweat, & memories made, is the single-most-wonderful feeling in the universe. The bruises, scuffs, scratches, & certainly the unsightly tan-lines on my arms & legs, serve as bookmarks in each story of adventure I have encountered in the forest. I wear each of them with pride. Spending my time off from work in the wilderness is so good, but also so dangerous, because I always come back to reality, anxious & resentful for having to leave the mountains behind. I know now that I have a gypsy heart,  that contentment is my biggest fear, & that I don’t want to live my life by fulfilling monotonous routines. I want to be free like the dogs on the loose & break free like the seed in the soil. I have come to accept that structure in my life, right now, is a necessary evil, & that structure is also a temporary season. I will be off my leash soon enough, & I will be free to roam, free to bloom. 

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