“Sometimes I feel so uninspired
Sometimes I feel like giving up
Sometimes I feel so very tired
Sometimes I feel like I’ve had enough”
—Steve Winwood, Traffic – “(Sometimes I Feel So) Uninspired“
I often go for aimless hikes. I wander. I need not a notable destination, my only goal to leave the city and immerse myself in nature.
Many times, if not most, I don’t even know where I’m driving to go hike when I leave the homestead until I end up there. This has been, more than usual, my modus operandi of late.
There has been a sharp decline in my activity on this blog for some months now. I suddenly lost interest, inspiration waned and I had had enough, but there is more to it than that alone.
The blog started as a creative work that complimented my existing proclivity toward outdoor recreation in the wild and my love of writing and learning. I could venture out, take a few snapshots and then write about my experiences. The blog added another element of fun to what I already had been doing my entire life.
But my digital offspring mutated like Gregor in The Metamorphosis into this hideous beast that became a burden to keep. The blog turned into something of a cyber despot dictating what I should and should not do.
No longer did I feel I could merely go out just to get out. While I never felt as though I was in competition with other bloggers, I did increasingly feel that in each outing into the woods I had to achieve some notable ends, had to bag the big story and return with a humdinger of a feature. This led to a necessity for more planning than I have ever had any interest in spending time doing. No longer could I just wander without intention or goal. I had to generate content.
“My momma always said, ‘Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.'”
The longer I set aside concerns about chasing waterfalls and caves and long trails and catching interesting material upon which to build a meaningful blog post, however, the more I hiked in relatively average areas with seemingly nothing remarkable about them.
Yet, at the same time, I was increasingly surprised to find during nearly every aimless wander through the supposed ordinary, how I stumbled upon something that made it all well worth my time and energy. It was not ordinary at all. The line from Forest Gump would always replay through my head. I just never knew what treasure I would find next.
A few days ago I was hiking with my dog up a heavily visited canyon, a place I habitually ignore because of its popularity, despite its natural splendor. I had managed to carry my dog over a dry waterfall before coming to a couple more, which I could not get him over.
Frustrated, I turned back early.
Though I enjoyed the hike, it had seemed that in being cut short it had no point. I had not reached a destination. It was the lingering taint of the dictatorial blog burdening my mind.
Then on my way down the creek I took a wrong turn, just a few feet the wrong way into the bushes, really. Turning back I found the path I had intended to follow a few steps later and a lily came into view, which I had not seen on my way up the creek. I stopped to take a gander and a tiger swallowtail butterfly fluttered down onto the bloom.
I had been waiting years to capture a snapshot of a swallowtail on a lily, two of the most striking small varieties of life in the forest. And here was my opportunity. Had I been able to hoist my dog over the waterfalls a short time earlier I would not have stumbled upon this chance.
“I don’t believe in coincidences, only chains of event which grow longer and ever more fragile until either bad luck or plain old human mean-heartedness breaks them.”
—Sandy Dearborn in Stephen King’s, From a Buick 8
Of course, such an event can always be looked at as though every little choice made throughout my entire life had brought me to this specific place at this specific time just as this butterfly floated out of the sky to sip the flower’s nectar, after having completed its own long unknown chain of events in its own life.
Anyhow, whatever the case may be, I got the photo. And it made the hike worth every bit of my time and energy. I never set out searching for this chance. I just went wandering with no particular aim and it happened, because in Los Padres National Forest you just never know what you’re gonna get.