Sunday, November 15, 2015

Never-fail getaway

 I felt somber this weekend, for the same reasons many people in the Western world felt somber. It's true I spend an average of an hour each day reading newspapers online, and I'm not blind to the reality that terrible things happen every day, everywhere. Like many people, I harbor deep-set information fatigue, and no longer react viscerally to most of what I read. When information does spark emotions, I question why. What is it about this particular story, and not all the others? It's true that if we all felt equally sad for all the sad events in a world of 7 billion people, we would lose our minds. Yet we do feel sadness for strangers, and sadness for implications for the future. I'm one of those who is constantly fighting to keep my own world view from sinking toward despair.

 This falls back to my love of the outdoors, without which I have no doubt I'd be a much sadder person. There are a number of psychological and philosophical implications that I don't want to delve into for this particular blog post, but I find it endlessly fascinating — and amusing — that simple movement through outdoor spaces is so highly valuable as an experience. I could disappear for hours into an echo chamber of rehashed information and reactive observations, or I could just get on my bike and pedal it to a quiet redwood grove, where sunlight never touches the forest floor in November, and listen to the crush of leaves beneath whirring tires and the almost harmonized burbles from a nearby stream. All I have to do is go there, and I feel happy. These are my two sides — the one that yearns for information with a desire to understand, and the one that yearns for quiet with a desire to simply be.

 The draw of the long ride was particularly deep on Saturday. After being down with pneumonia for more than a month, Beat expressed interest in joining. He still has several physical issues lingering from his illness, including a rib that possibly broke during a coughing fit, but his health has been on a steady rise for a couple of weeks now. I questioned whether he might feel too sore or tired after a month of relative inactivity, but for Beat, "lost fitness" no longer makes much of a difference. He actually can pick right back up where he left off, which quickly became evident as I huffed and gasped to keep up with him on the winding climb out of Stevens Creek Canyon.

Within our busy metro area, we've pieced together a 76-mile loop that is refreshingly remote. We pass no businesses (unless you count the Mr. Mustard hot dog cart at Saratoga Gap, and the forever-under-renovation closed store in Loma Mar.) Trails are never crowded and road traffic is light. After a dozen or so descents along the perimeter of Big Basin Redwoods State Park, I have yet to see another person on the Johansen fire road. The tree canopy over Gazos Creek is so dark in the winter that one could easily mistake noon for dusk. There is much to enjoy, far away from noise.

As evening approached, Beat admitted to feeling knackered but continued to charge up the Bella Vista trail at the same relentless pace. We arrived at Black Mountain just as the sun settled beneath a pink strip of coastal fog. An oncoming cold front had cranked up the wind, and we steeled ourselves with multiple layers as the light faded from coral to crimson, and finally violet.

We descended into the expanding darkness, into a place so ephemeral and yet so easy to locate — my moving tunnel of peace. 


  1. Outdoor exercise is absolutely the most important thing for my mental health. I finally got out for a trail run today after a week of just going on short walks, and the difference between pre-run Ingunn and post-run Ingunn was huge. It changes everything.

    "My moving tunnel of peace" - I like that.

  2. as for Paris, politics are dancing I suspect...

    terrorists, radicals, crime etc... has been around since humankind has been on the planet earth... when there is judgement, issues, potential differences (great deviation between rich and poor), shame/blame, etc... this will exist. Like electrons and protons, trying to conquer existence. There will always be storms on this planet.

    Best we find out why, why do they do what they do.

    When america ran out of oil - back in the 70s, america started to search for oil in the middle east.
    with this comes the very very rich, and the very very poor. Potential difference, forming radical movements? as religion is hijacked for radical movements, like a cult in some regards.

    can spend billions trying to stop it, but with the erratication of one group will just come another as these groups are small.

    Gotta understand the underlying problem before ever trying to fix it.
    Its like increasing jail time, that going to solve the problem... probably not. People too far broken some of them are.

    why do people do what they do? that is the true question, understanding the problem.
    Instead, we just fire back... empires built on fear mongering and people making money off of people problems... not solving the underlying problem.

  3. Thank you for writing this piece. I often wondered about what the "right" amount of caring is and how much emotional energy can I expend on things. I got really upset and indignant over the shooting at the Oregon Community College last month, but with no payoff for me in the end. The world continues to spin, and I believe that somehow the world has to become more compassionate and understanding, but in the meantime, I'll continue to get on my bike and enjoy "my moving tunnel of peace".

  4. Grant me the serenity
    to accept the things I cannot change;
    courage to change the things I can;
    and wisdom to know the difference.

    Living one day at a time;
    enjoying one moment at a time;
    accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
    taking this sinful world
    as it is, not as I would have it;
    trusting that a higher power will make all things right
    if I surrender to a higher power what ever that may be;
    that I may be reasonably happy in this life
    and supremely happy with a higher power
    forever in the next.

    can't control everything, those that think they can are fooling themselves and will spend countless energy and money doing so in wasteful ways. Things are going to happen, stupid stuff will happen and drastic stuff will happen in a world that is full of storms, conflict and potential differences.


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