Day 11: Crooked Lake to Cross Village

7-16_sunsetLast night I dreamed I was caught by the police in my illegal campsite- I guess nothing is not without costs if you have a guilty conscience! I seem to have an abundance of that. Tonight I’m on the Lake Michigan shore by Cross Village- camping illegally again. It may be the prettiest place I’ve ever slept.

Watching the sunset right now it occurs to me that I have never truly watched a sunset alone. If something is beautiful or appealing to me, why do I always need someone else to enjoy it with? It’s undoubtedly nice to share a sunset or a walk with someone else but a lack of company should be no reason not to do something I like.

I’ve taken a lot of photos and posted 1-Second–Every-Day clips for a compilation video, and Allison wrote that article about me- so many opportunities to be judged and validated by others! I’ve been thinking about how I value other people’s opinion of me so highly, but I forget that I am “other people” to other people. It gives me a mental image of the world where everyone is constantly engaged in assigning value to other people’s stuff and putting their stuff out to be valued by others at the same time. That constant validation cycle is pure folly. I will always care about what other people think- probably more than I’d like to- but I hope at least to judge my acts, opinions, and even photos, for myself first.

When Lance and I were separating, I got the frustrated feeling he was trying to give me what I wanted even though I never claimed to want it (a divorce, that is). I said I was confused, that I wanted time and a chance to make some changes. He didn’t want me to go, yet he’s the one who pushed for the divorce. It doesn’t make sense under any other reasoning than that he was giving me what he thought I wanted. Maybe divorce is what I would have ultimately decided I wanted but then, I just wanted a chance to figure it out. And now I’ll never have that because we acted on feelings that weren’t yet established. If we both act on interpretations of what we think each other wants rather than what they say then we are like those tragic characters in The Gift of the Magi, sacrificing ourselves to give to each other what we do not want. Even worse, in this case the “gift” is a divorce.

As simple as it seems, one of my goals for this trip is just to become more aware of what I want. and then to deal with hit rather than to start with someone else’s desires in mind. The way I see it, knowing what you want doesn’t always mean getting what you want, but it allows you to enjoy it when you do! And if you don’t get it, at least you know you’ve compromised. It’s just better.

Today I deviated from the route in order to walk along the Lake Michigan shoreline. I don’t understand why the North Country Trail doesn’t take advantage of its proximity to this incredible coast. In keeping with the spirit of “figuring out what I want” I was pondering the relative merits of sticking to the trail (less beautiful) versus going along the water (longer but more scenic). I heard about the “tunnel of trees” and wanted to see if for myself.

While I was having this internal debate, the trail led me onto a road where, almost immediately, a police car drove up next to me. He rolled down his window and showed me a picture of a missing 13-year-old boy. He had run away that morning just west of here. Over the next few miles I noticed more police cars and saw helicopters overheard. My decision was made. I was going to go west, toward the tunnel of trees, toward the coast, and toward the missing boy! I conjured up elaborate fantasies where I encountered the scared boy, earned his trust and saved the day. It felt I had an advantage over the police who were in uniform and easy to avoid since they made noise in their cars and ATVs. I am an unintimidating hiker who, on foot, might stealthily cross paths with the boy. These delusions of grandeur got me through the afternoon quite pleasantly.

Needless to say I didn’t discover him, and now, I am in the awkward situation of camping illegally, quite exposed on the beachfront, in the search zone of a lost boy. Search helicopters keep passing along the beach overhead. My natural inclination is to hide from them because I’m not supposed to be here but if they see me hiding it would be extremely suspicious. My overactive imagination has a vivid scene of a SWAT team rappelling down from their helicopters and “rescuing” me. Far from being the hero I could ruin the entire search effort! So I suck it up and make myself visible.

7-16_trailToday I was bored at the start of the day. I already lost my mental groove fortitude after 1 ½ days off! To entertain myself, I counted a few things. How many countries have I been to? How many men have I had sex with? I calculated my worldliness-to-sluttiness ratio. Hilarious. This little project made me realize how many relationships I’ve had that started with a chance encounter rather than a built-in friendship. It’s empowering to think that I can create a meaningful relationship with someone who was so recently a stranger. It fills me with a sense of possibility. Whoever I end up with, I think I’ll find him not by searching or waiting, but by pursuing my ambitions. Let him love me for who I am and not what I hope he’ll like.

According to my new GPS, I went 24.5 miles today. According to my map, I went 20.5 miles. By my watch, I walked for 7 hours 16 minutes and I think I average 18 minutes per mile are so that comes to 22 miles. Not being able to accurately calculate my distance is frustrating but it’s a good lesson- it’s not about the miles!

Falling asleep with a feeling of pride, excitement, INNER PEACE. It’s a good life. Here’s hoping I don’t wake up to search lights and Army Rangers.

Continue to the next entry in the series here: Day 12: Cross Village to Wilderness State Park

Go back to the last entry in the series here: Day 10: Petoskey to Crooked Lake

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