North America, Solo Female Travel, Travel Stories

Love Poems to God

A low hum of voices. Slight trickle flame. White wine in a blue, dotted camping mug. 

Cicadas. Crickets. The waning sounds of late summer.

Air so thick I can see my own breath against the night sky. Hills in the distance like erect breasts, pointed and smooth. 

Arkansas Grand Canyon, 2020

The simple pleasure of sitting after a long walk, blood still pooled in the lower half of my body, muscles throbbing. 

Bug bitten, blistered, sun burned, scratched. Ash on my clothes, dirt under my fingernails. Dressed in spider webs and fragments of grass and petals, little souvenirs to carry with me for awhile.

Buffalo River Trail, AR 2020

I am finding the ability to relax a new sensation in my body. My mind- so used to catastrophizing, planning, thinking ahead. The present day beauty filtered through the sandstorm of fear. Dust in my mouth choking out the words I never said, never proclaimed myself fully yours for the grit caught in my chattering teeth.

I almost didn’t come.

Buffalo River Trail, AR 2020

Up until the last minute, food packed, car full of gear, I almost bailed. Nerves and mind replaying every worst-case scenario from bears to flat tires to broken ankles in the forest. A simple three day weekend in the woods turned into an impossible obstacle course of trying to avoid (anticipate) disaster. 

It’s not like me to be so anxious about something as simple as a camping trip. I’ve gone on hundreds in my life time. Alone. In the woods. Hiking and floating and backpacking. Not to mention the solo trips around the world and back again.

Something that’s always really bothered me is when people say I’m “fearless.” I know they mean it as a compliment. A way to say, “I can’t imagine doing this thing you’re doing, wow!”

National Buffalo River, AR 2020

It is not accomplished by a lack of fear.

I had so much of it before leaving town and heading to Arkansas (a very dangerous and exotic place, I know) that I even downloaded an app so my family could track my location while I’m gone. I messaged them so many times before I left I think they thought I’d gone nutty and probably wished I’d gone a little more off the grid, not less. 

I can’t explain my level of anxiety because it’s not rational. Part of me thinks there’s so much collective fear being generated right now that we’ve forgotten that the world while unpredictable, chaotic and literally on fire can also be a place of beauty, softness and serenity. I am not impervious to the forgetting. 

National Buffalo River, AR 2020

Maybe my ego knew I’d have an encounter with Spirit that would shift my perspective into one of release. Maybe I haven’t taken enough risks lately and my courage muscle has atrophied from lack of use. I can’t always identify why I’m scared.

But here I am. Wet earth. Gray skies plopping moisture from the clouds intermittently. Green permeating everything. Reading poems aloud to God and realizing for the first time maybe he/she/it might want my company as much as I want theirs. 

Buffalo River Trail, 2020
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