Category Archives: July ’09

Beyond my limits

Finally somewhere beyond Montpelier I decided to turn around. As if it were a gas station, I pulled into a stranger’s driveway to fill up my tank. I stuffed my face with twizzler’s and swapped out an empty water bottle. My legs felt fine and my mind was ready to take me a few more miles. But if hell had mountains, I’m sure they somewhat resemble the clouds sitting only a mile in the distance.

After squeezing two gatorades out of five dollars at a nearby gas station, I began on the thirty miles home. But while I was enjoying the sub maximal wattage I was putting out, the rain drops were getting bigger and more consistent. I thought to myself “I wonder if I can outrun this sucker?” I looked at my left hand which had heart rate zones written on it. I looked at my watch on my right hand and saw my heart rate was in the “recovery” zone. Yes I can.

The road would bear right and sprinkles of water would splatter on my arms and back. But as the road turned left and downhill, I picked up speed and rode out of the storm. I pounded on the pedals calculating my energy reserves perfectly to get me back home at this speed. I crested hills amidst corn fields out of the saddle, sat and felt the burn. It was my day and I could feel it. My legs felt rested and strong. The gloominess behind me seemed to be getting worse, and my legs stronger. The air felt light and chilly. I looked at my Garmin forerunner to see that I had been averaging 21.7 miles per hour.

I felt strong, I felt invincible. But the veins on my arms began to bulge, my legs lost their color, and I was feeling cold. Nearly a mile from my house my lungs felt weak and I felt winded. Once in my home I took only a few steps before I collapsed on my living room carpet.

Its been three days now that I have not trained trying to recover from that ride. I don’t think it’s really worth that.


I stand atop Mt. Katahdin and gut scream like king-kong on The Empire State building. The location of the journey’s end for most thru-hikers, I am just beginning my adventure. I look at the sign stating the location as a bookend of one of the greatest stretches of wilderness in the United States. I can’t help myself but to feel alive enough to look like a seasoned hiker. I am free. I am standing on top of the world with my whole life ahead of me.

I have no place to look back, the beginning is beneath me, the adventure lies solely in the distance beyond my eye’s reach.

For the past nineteen years my shoes have been water logged, my back strained, my legs tired, my head stressed, and my emotions a whirl. Now I am set. I have one task. I have no responsibilites, no ties, no commitment, no debt, no relation, no expectations. I am, in every essence of the word, free.

For the past nineteen years I have done as I was told. I did exactly what everyone expected me to do, what is considered “normal”. But this year I realized that normal is not how I want to live.

Sure routine is easy. Working on an assembly line has led us to believe that life is routine. We get comfortable and we hesitate to stray from comfort. I could go flip burgers for the rest of my life. I fell into that comfort. It sucked me in and it was so enticing. It is so much harder to plan an Appalachian trail thru-hike.

So I am avoiding total insanity with routine. I certainly don’t know how long I am going to live but maybe forty is where the string is cut for me. Maybe this is my mid-life crisis. I just know that I cannot grow up and look back and realize that I missed my chance to do what I wanted to do. I don’t have a prospective wife. I don’t have debt. Nothing is holding me back. And so I am about to reach freedom.

Yeah so I still have to follow the laws of physics just like everything else in our universe. But what I don’t have to follow are the laws of civilization and normalcy. My feet itch really bad. It’s hard to live in the present when the future holds such freedom for me.

Leave no trace

I have never considered myself much of an environmentalist. I don’t own a hybrid car. In fact, I enjoy using gasoline to get me somewhere to save the calories in my legs for when I really need them. I don’t recycle everything I should. Actually looking over at my trash can now, it contains a power bar box, a blue ridge mountain sports paper bag, and chemistry test papers and note that I finally got around to throwing away. I used to respond simply with the word “entropy” to my brother when he would pick environmental preservation fights with me. Entropy is generally speaking the tendency of the universe to attain a lower state of order. Ice melts, tree’s fall, wood burns, people die. And while I fight entropy with my body, I never have really worried too much about the ground I stand on.

In actuality, I guess I enjoy civilization. But my urge to leave it all for the back country is there. And while I am not very environmentally conscious within city limits, I cannot carry that attitude to the woods.

On my first solo camping adventure, I slept on the banks of a stream one night, then on a bed of fragile plants another night. I defecated a mere yard or so from the stream. I had never heard of the word cathole, or of the philosophy of leave no trace. I was uneducated, ignorant, and leaving the forest a lot nastier than when I came. I had no hesitation pulling up a tiny tree to give me the perfect campsite or dropping a load in smelling distance of a campsite. My steps were hard and my footprints deep.

When I began doing my research for my trip, the only commonality every book had was a page or more on the principles of Leave No Trace. Even some of my maps have a section on this teaching on the back. My initial reaction to this philosophy was that I was reading books by a bunch of pansy hypocrites that don’t mind cutting down thousands of trees to publish their books but can’t stand to just drop a dump in the woods the way we’ve done it forever.

Finally after skimming through these sections quickly and lightly, I decided to actually study the argument in one of my books behind Leave No Trace. The first thing I read is that since 1982, the number of backpackers in the back country has nearly doubled. Secondly, the number of national parks visits each year exceeds 300 million. So I pulled the mental cob webs off my brain, revved it up and did some mental calculations. Back county + a lot of people + practices we bring from civilization = not so back country anymore. I don’t really want to go looking for that great wilderness experience and find that everywhere I go it looks like a school bus pulled up and let kids run rampant. And I definitely don’t want to have to pick my campsite around dump and T.P. scattered everywhere.

Then after learning about the effect of human waste on local water sources and how the parasite giardia fuels on our fecal matter, I realized that relieving myself next to that stream probably wasn’t such a good idea. Actually, that was extremely dumb of me. Really it is dumb to defecate anywhere but into a six inch deep “cathole”. Burying waste is the only safe way to leave it in the back country and be confident in the sanity of your drinking water. And water better way for nature to kick back than to give the offender giardia and ensure the next few days he’ll be digging quite a few catholes.

But other things I did on that trip were equally destructive. That tree that I pulled up could have grown to a giant. The banks of the stream were covered in sensitive plants, at least before I showed up, that fuel off and in turn, filter the water. Additionally, people would have no trouble finding my campsite. The problem is not necessarily that I left it different from when I came. The problem comes in full force when other people see my perfect campsite and pitch their tent in the same spot. Soon the place becomes a full blown clearing with a fire ring and other amenities. What would the forest be if there were a clearing every corner you turn and every valley and ridge you reach?

And while this may sound foreign to you, just as it did me, a fire has become an outdated method for warmth and cooking. While this may excessively progressive if not downright picky, it shocked me just as much as it may you. The truth is, that downed wood that we burn is what bring nutrients to the soil for other trees and plants to grow. It is a cycle with dead trees helping other plants, bugs and trees grow. This is not to detract from the ugly fact that fire rings and charcoal make a pristine forest disgusting. Once again my incredibly rusty but still existent analytical skills can still recognize that a lot of people plus a lot of fires equals no wood, lots of fire rings and charcoal, and trees with no lower branches. The alternative to heat is simple, just use your own. That’s what clothes and sleeping bags are for. The alternative to cooking is something everyone is using, a simple stove.

There is more to the Leave No Trace philosophy than I have described. But mostly it means just being able to turn around at any point of your trip and not see any evidence you were ever there. While my first reaction towards Leave No Trace was excessively negative and harsh, I am a true follower now. I am still a skeptic about some of the methods but I realize that I don’t want to go on my Appalachian trail hike only to discover that I have not strayed very far from civilization at all. It is my responsibility to leave no trace to ensure that the next guy can “get away from it all” too.

I agree

I never signed a waiver agreeing to risks of life. I definitely did not ever sign an agreement to die someday. I was put here involuntarily. My parents did not think that maybe I did not want to be born. There are so many risks in this world and the only physical truth is the one that most of us like to avoid. But I am so glad that my parents did not think that. I am so glad I have been thrown into this life involuntarily. I did not sign a waiver, but because I was given life, I will agree to die someday.

No matter how hard we fight against disease and how much exercise and healthy eating we commit to, the end still comes. No matter if we live life protected by four walls or if we float miles above the earth skydiving, the inevitable still remains the inevitable. I once had a t-shirt that listed possible ways to die on the ski slopes of Vail, Colorado and the last line said how we could fall off the couch and die.

I’m not too worried about that whole end thing. It’s going to happen so why lose the enjoyment of life by worrying about death? Nah, I’ll stick to living. Some adults lose that approach and some kids maybe should at least slightly admit to vincibility.

Much of my life I have lived oblivious to the fact that I can be defeated. Once in mid-winter I rode my bike down and up Snowshoe’s snowy mountain road. I thought it would be a pain threshold test but it turned out to be more. At 55 miles per hour, the speed knocked the already -15 degree wind chill down to -30. When I rolled into the house, I looked my mom in the eyes and referring to my ride, said, “I don’t know what giving birth exactly feels like, but it couldn’t have been that bad”. The action of riding in a severely underdone outfit didn’t even skim the surface of how stupid it was to ride a bike at 55 m.p.h. on a snowy road.

As I am about to embark on a 2000 mile trail alone, at times with no help around for miles, I am constantly questioning if I have the maturity to totally grasp and understand my vincibility.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, in Pelham, Alabama for the Xterra Southeast Championships, I underestimated the heat. While refusing to quit the race and accept medical attention, with early stages of heat stroke, I risked my life. Some ways to go out are pretty epic and respectable but neither of those words describe dying at 17 because of refusing to drop out of a triathlon.

So while I cannot prepare for everything the trail has to throw at me, I have been told being adequately knowledgeable and experienced will keep me from making silly mistakes that could bring about my death. Life is an extremely complex existence that is way beyond any science or religion. No matter how much I learn about how things in the body happen, the question of how molecules come together to bring life will never be answered. It will always amaze me. But at the same time, complexity typically brings fragility. Life is fragile and the end can be brought about any number of ways. If I search all around me for ways that could bring that end, I will be distracted from everything that makes life great.

The night before my tenth birthday I touched an exposed wire that juiced my body like the two sets of baseball field lights above. Sure the shock of four-hundred and eighty volts left me frightened, but as I left the hospital the doctor’s warning of black urine took my fear to another whole level.

A senior at Freeman high school student’s lack of brains and excess of guts risked my life when he decided a stop was a stoptional. Sure I cannot live my life in fear of everything that surrounds me, but with a little caution and care I can possibly avoid many traps that would threaten an inattentive person’s life. That is not to say that driving is dangerous so I should not do it. But if I had not been on mental cruise control, thinking about my math exam rather than the world surrounding me, maybe I would have seen him pulling in front of me. Maybe he would have driven away ashamed rather than walk away punished. My totaled car sure would have appreciated it. So would his car insurance bill. Although his lack of attentiveness was given the ticket, maybe more awareness on my part could have prevented it. True, death traps surround me, but after these occurrences I learned that with care I can avoid most of them. I’m four for four on my slightly life threatening incidents being user error.

I would rather not have the reputation as the kid who went out on the A.T. at 19, completely unprepared and inexperienced, and died of hypothermia from not having adequate rain gear. Alternatively, crawling for miles to a road, eventually dying of blood loss after wrestling and killing an adult black bear, that’s not too bad. Neither is ideal of course but the difference is that one I was unprepared and the other I could not have prepared for. Yes of course I could get a desk job and live in the suburbs with the convenience of a knob to adjust the temperature within my walls in even the worst weather.  I’ve been doing something like that for nineteen years and that does not really satisfy my urge for adventure.

Like I said, I don’t have a death wish. I just feel that I am going to be surrounded by danger everywhere. No need to take unnecessary risks though. That is why I am doing all my research and meticulously planning the trip down to each calorie and mile hiked each day. To accompany me on my trip is a GPS dubbed “Spot” that has four buttons. One tells my mama I’m warm and okay. One tells her I’m not doing too hot and I want to come home. Another sends my coordinates to 9-1-1 and well, I just hope I don’t have to use that button. And lastly the On/Off button will come in handy.

I do have my nightmares and I do have occasional anxiety about the trip. I have considered not commiting to the expedition. But as much as my mom wishes it did, my mind just cannot seem to win over my heart. The trail has its hold on me and its not letting go until I find out what its all about. I was given life, I will agree to die someday, but for now I get to live and I don’t mind taking advantage of that.


I woke up this morning at 4:00 am to bag my dehydrated strawberries. But when I woke up this morning I felt a confidence that I felt was misplaced. I felt prepared and ready even though my legs are tired and I have a triathlon this weekend. I felt comfortable although two days ago I was broken down to laying beside my mom getting my back rubbed. And in addition to that, I thought, I am about to commit to an incredible adventure that surpasses anything I have ever done and I have no idea what I am doing.

I feel that my lack of knowledge is helping me though. I am learning how to thru-hike the Appalachian trail with no previous customs or stubborn habits. I am open to anything, a tabla  rasa. Each time I go to Blue Ridge Mountain Sports I make an effort to talk to someone different than before. And I quickly realized that everyone has their own preferences and quirks. But rather than being a hard headed omniscient hiker, I am inexperienced and open to anything. I am open to hiking with only a tarp, or hiking with a four season shelter. I don’t know whether I should take a poncho or a rain jacket, sleeping bag or a quilt. Are trekking poles, gloves, glasses, or a book necessary? People are dying to lecture me on their thought and pull me into their rythm but so far I have just listened and not invested.

I guess my new found confidence is due to the feeling that I am on the right path. I have resources, I have the finances, the time, the commitment, and the guts. I have a stack of ten books that I’m working my way though, highlighting and taking quick notes on the inside cover as I go. Today I learned that if I startle a bear in the back country, stand tall, wave my arms slowly, and talk to him in a “calm but firm voice”. Oh yeah and my mom was delighted to hear that if attacked I should lay down, hands over my head, and legs spread wide to prevent the bear from rolling me over. I am supposed to protect my vital organs while he gnaws and claws at me. That’s pleasant.

I am having fun with all this learning too. Hopefully before I set out, I’ll be confident to try natural back country foods, or make my own brace for a broken arm, how to camp comfortably in the winter, and how to survive anything the wild world can throw at me. I’ll be a wilderness know-it-all without any experience. The experience and wisdom will come steadily and safely as long as the first week is not too difficult.

My food dehydrator has not been turned off in 72 hours. My mom is worried it is getting tired.

When I headed into the I love the tavern triathlon, I had no confidence in my abilities. Today I am ready to race, despite overwhelming physical fatigue. I am exicted to race and see everyone and hang out. Third place at 3sports tri is my goal. I have the confidence and desire to carry it through, and that combination in an athlete is unbeatable.

Trail name

My name is Grayson. I like my name. Do I go by Grayson? Of course. I have always gone by Grayson and have never had a nickname.

But on my hike I need a new name. I need what thru-hikers call a “trail name”. I have never thought of myself having a different name. The only other name I respond to is Andrew or Andy when someone mistakes me for my brother. I have also been known to reply to any of my family members’ and sometimes dogs’ names when my mom is too angry to think straight. But another name solely to define me?

I am stumped. I like the name my mama gave me. Not many people have a name that starts with “G”. I like that letter. It’s humbly placed a few letters in the alphabet so as not to seem cocky, but it is close enough to the front to display confidence. Additionally, the name grace is just absolutely beautiful…and my name contains that sound. However, contrary to popular belief, I am not the son of Gray, it is just a name.

There is a book called Grayson. It is about the son of a gray whale. I own it (of course) and its my favorite book (of course) and should be yours too.

Upon further inspection, my name does have a low side. Take the first four letters, g-r-a-y. Most people have heard that word before. Some of its synonyms are old, hoary, aged, ancient, dreary, and to top of the optimism, depressing. Huh, well the color isn’t to shiny either.

Grayson is not a stern name like Fred, John, or Chad. It has a sensitive side to it. I like that. So if you would like to suggest a trail name, feel free to leave a comment on this post.


All I want is a Coke. That is the key to my heart right now. A beautiful thing that fountain drink machine was. Piedmont triad omnium in Lexington, North Carolina successfully completed.

On Friday, as three friends and I were driving to Lexington, I lifted my tired head off the window and said “I can’t believe we are racing tonight”. The guys laughed at the randomness of my comment. They were thinking it too though. Nine p.m. race start. It sounded pretty cool that we would be “racing under the lights” but we truly underestimated the legitimacy of this race. We rolled up to the far corner of the criterium course in time to see the category 3/4 field pass. My reaction of “Wow, that is a lot of guys” continued on to “Dang, they just keep coming,” to  “Holy crap man! That field was huge! That must have been 75 to 100 guys!”. Having seen a mere 25 entrants pre-registered for each race, we were all completely in shock.

I slowly rode my bike, ready to race, up to the course from the parking lot. My next excitement came when I saw a huge video screen like the one at football games. It came out of the roof of the trailer on a tractor-trailer. I stood in shock watching the cyclists on the video screen approach and roll through each of the four corners of the course until they soon came rolling back by the start/finish line. An announcer, on a massive stereo system, led the hundreds of locals as to what was going on during the race. This is legitimate. This is real.

When I rolled up to the start, it was completely dark out. The crew had turned on transportable lights that were scattered all over the course. My curiosity of how people who have never raced in the dark would do for their first time quickly turned to an answer when a cyclist wrecked on the first corner, a mere hundred meters from the start. Everyone settled in quickly though and come a lap to go, I was up in a perfect location ready to fight in the pack sprint. I stole the draft of a guy’s lead out for his teammate. His teammate jumped, I jumped. He got it. I got third.

I watched my friend race till eleven and then we returned to the hotel to ready for a time trial in the morning. Bed at 1:00 a.m., alarm set for 6:00 a.m. Second in the time trial. Consistency is key to omniums and no one could match the points I attained from the third and second. An omnium is a stage race in which a rider receives a point score from a placement in each race. For this omnium, the winner gets eleven points, the second place finisher gets ten, and so on down to one point. A criterium is a lap race in which the general rule is between half and 1.5 miles per lap. The second race of four, a time trial is a no drafting race against the clock. Riders roll out at intervals and race as fast as he can for a certain distance. Now those are typical races that most everyone has heard of.

But what came on Saturday, none of us could have prepared for. The race director had dubbed this race “Street Sprints” and gave us no idea of what to expect. After a good rest break, we showed up for the street sprints around five p.m. We had planned strategies for all the street sprint ideas we could think of and picked the one that fit. Six riders (eight for the finals) line up and at the gun, race downhill at first to a line 300 meters away. No rider could merely hammer the distance and expect to beat the others. The strategy was to catch the wheel of the first guy to attack and then pass him at the line. First and second of three heats proceed to the finals and third and fourth continue to an elimination round. First and second from that elimination heat go on to the finals.

Looking to my right to jump on to the wheel of the first man to jump off the line, a power house went off to the left of me. He jumped at the perfect time and I didn’t make up any distance on him. I proceeded to the final round where I attempted a race from the gun. Whoops. Three guys passed me at the line. My fourth place finish still gave me eight points.

The next morning was a road race in which riders go for miles on open roads. In this case, the road race was a ten mile loop done three times. After a failed break away attempt, absence of calories, and fatigue from the previous three races, my legs were getting tired. In the last five miles of the road race I was really feeling it. But as I watched a guy jump off the front to my right, I got on his wheel and was once again set up in perfect position for the finish. At near forty miles an hour I see the tent coming up fast and I put my head down to hammer it to the finish. Sadly that tent seemed a lot closer than it was and my fatigued legs couldn’t quite hold me to the finish. A sixth place still supplied me with the points I needed to seal an omnium win.

Category three upgrade and a couple hundred dollars in cash that paid for my trip, the adventure was successful and fun. But after a couple of coca-cola’s, my urges still continued. My grocery cart yesterday contained twizzlers, chips ahoy, oreos, a half gallon of Edy’s Cookies and Cream ice cream, and some fruit gummies. Coming up on 3sports triathlon this weekend and trying to drop four pounds by Luray triathlon, my binging is not looking too helpful.

The freedom of sand and water

The time just before the sun comes out, the intermediate of night and day. We drove, windows down, listening to the blues, strums of guitar accompanied by musty microphones and moaning voices. I felt like we should have been driving in a woody. Head out the window, my newly number 5 trimmed head let the wind tickle my scalp. I was going to the beach and I couldn’t be happier about it. I want to go swimming and I don’t care that it’s almost feeding time.

We walked the half mile stretch to the beach in almost total darkness, only able to tell our path by the little star light let through from the trees above. At the touch of the cool sand I was back in my element. Already without shoes, I took my shirt off and walked calmly into the warm water. With no breeze, the water was completely flat past the shore break. The waves broke two and a half feet high, perfect for body surfing.

All night my friend Nat’s girlfriend had been commenting on how we were going swimming during feeding time. I laughed and trusted Jamie and Adam had proved that myth busted. Sure enough, right when I stepped just outside of the break, I see a fin glide across the top of the water only a few yards away from me. I look to Nat and saw him looking with a dead stare at the spot where the fin popped up. I did what any sensible human would do, tried to run in waist deep water. Nat continued his stare and then called “Wait! They’re just dolphins!”

Other than a group of drunks that reinforced my commitment to not drink, we had the beach to ourselves. Cool sand, warm water, salty air, calming shore break, moonlit sky speckled with lights from across the universe. God, I love the beach.

The next day I returned to the exception to the rule that the older a person gets, the more boring the stuff they do on the beach is. Building sadcastles is fun. I don’t care if I am the only nineteen year old building them. A kid plays in the shore break and on the crest of the water in the maleable sand. A teenager throws a ball at another ball to see how close he can get them. College students lay on towels to see how much skin damage they can squeeze out of a few hours. Sometimes they play volleyball or other beach games. But mostly they do what I do between ten p.m. and eight a.m., sleep. Adults have kids who keep them young for an hour or so before they sit in a chair and read. I play and I love playing and I don’t really see myself enjoying anything else. My future kids will be in college remarking on how weird their dad is for body boarding and building sand castles. I’m fine with that.

The trailhead awaits me

Chris McCandless showed the world a way of embracing life that most of us did not understand. On his journeys he  helped people love and feel and live the way humans were meant to. So many things blind us from those three fundamental elements but Chris taught the world to open our eyes. But Chris taught without preaching. He enlightened us by doing it himself. And although he made some mistakes, his goal was righteous and the following is true.

Chris lived for 24 years. That is more than most people can say at their deaths even after eighty years of so-called living. We fall into a pattern and although that routine and schedule might lead us from our dream, we keep following it because its easy.

My senior year of high school I declared that I was going to take a year away from a classroom. I was going to break that routine and follow my overwhelming deep desire. But all my friends were going to college. Everyone was following that path and while watching the ease of their way, I was reeled into the routine again. Birth, day care, elementary school, middle school, high school, college, job, retirement, death. That routine was so easy and so enticing for me.

Many of my teachers thought that I had cracked my senior year. I had become utterly sick of school and I was ready to do something different. People who thought they knew me said that it was just senioritis. People who knew me knew it was much different. My idea of life was adventure and unexpected, exciting challenges and struggle, not routine. People who thought they knew me said I should go to college for a year and then decide. Maybe I would like college.

So I thought, maybe I would like college. Turns out I don’t and didn’t, but understand the necessity of such an evil. I thought, what’s another year? But that extra year in school pushed me over the edge.

I will set out on my great adventure to on August 22. Instead of Alaska, I will struggle alongside nature in Maine. Chris died because of a technical mistake, not because his ideals were whack. I hope to not make any technical mistakes, but life has a way of making even the most detailed plans and preparation near worthless.

Only a handful of people have hiked the entire 2,178 trail from the North to the South. Much, much less have hiked the trail in the winter. I prepare myself with reading, experimenting, and conversing with more knowledgeable hikers, but nothing can prepare me physically, mentally, and emotionally for the struggle I am about to endure.

On August 22nd, 2009 I will began my attempt at a southbound winter thru-hike of the Appalachian trail.

The dream was only a reminder

I once read the essay “On Dreams” by Sigmund Freud. In the concise version of his more lengthy essay he interprets dreams and establishes his belief that dreams are not disordered or accidental. He claims that some dreams are essentially the subconscious reaching out to the conscious.

Last night I had a dream that feels very meaningful to me.

As far as my memory of the dream reaches I felt fearful and nervous. Very quickly the root to my fear became apparent. I was driving on a four lane interstate with a tail. Several huge vehicles were coming up fast and I knew they were after me. I looked back in my rear view mirror as the lights from the oncoming truck came close enough to blind me.

I swerved onto an exit ramp to avoid being run over by the villain of my dream.I was not aware of the reason I was being chased but I definitely knew to run.

The exit ramp was my escape to an access road that ran parallel to the highway. I drove along at ninety miles an hour alongside the villain chasing me. Now I had a vantage of the massive group coming after me. All the vehicles were bulky, threatening, huge trucks. Some looked like army vehicles, others were dump trucks, and the lead was a tractor trailer.

I watched as the caravan swerved through traffic trying to keep up with me, ramming unsuspecting cars in the process. Soon I took a turn off the access road onto a gravel road. From there I saw the start of a trail. I ditched my car, set out on the trail, and my anxiety dissipated. Helicopters flew above looking for me, but I was concealed on the forest floor. I had a pristine view for miles, with the sun rising in the distance. The evergreen trees covered my head and I had no fear of being caught. I was free.

Whether this dream is silly or truly metaphorical, I don’t know. I do suspect that it’s a sign that right now I am discontent.

I went to Manhattan last year for the first time in my life. I had never seen such an urban setting with so much asphalt and concrete and so little trees and grass. However, in addition to central park, there were many more smaller parks scattered over the city. Each time I passed a park on my walking tour of the city I noticed the congestion of people in the park. People fueled off whatever green they could surround themselves with and the main hang outs and gathering spots were parks. With this observation, in addition to realizing my dislike for the brown, gray, and off white beneath my feet, I was so amazed and excited to see how so many people were attracted to whatever green they could find. It was almost like I expected to find people huddling around bits af grass growing in sidewalk cracks. And the bitter sweet observation helped enlighten me to  every one’s desire for some natural element of the world in their life.

Some people hate camping or are grossed out by dirt and mud. Some are scared of snakes and spiders. Some use umbrellas in rain and pump the heat up to 80 degrees in the winter. I run inside to the protection of my house’s walls when I get swarmed by mosquitoes. And the movie “Birds” definitely did not help my fear of hawks, eagles, and owls. But I do believe that deprived of the softness of dirt beneath our feet, the freedom of fields, and the warmth of the color green, we all get a little thirsty no matter how urban and new age we think we are.

I see dirt and grass and trees that chose their own location every day. But still the hardness of concrete that surrounds me drives me to an even great desire for the kingdom plantae. I want freedom and soon I will have it. My subconcious doesn’t need to tell me that in a dream. I already knew it.