Early morning on the porch. The time of day the stoop invites me to sit and take in the last vestiges of the night and welcome the first flecks of dawn. Today the train whistle blew. Nothing new. A familiar city noise. But its tone was strong. It seemed to be calling.
I don’t know. The rhythmic unevenness rattles my sedentary stance and beckons my peripatetic ways. I readily admit that the sound of clacking tracks and the squeal of metal upon the rails draws out my desire to be on board.
Last year at this time, I set out for a camping trip across the country with a lot more ignorant bliss than experienced know-how. Something had called to me. Maybe it was the forced upon reality that this life, the one I was living, was the only one I was going to be given. It was up to me to answer the often quoted question put to us by Mary Oliver: what is you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
My answer could have been confined by obligations and expectations…like the obligation to pay the mortgage or the expectation to keep a regular job. Instead, I took a mindfully leap. To say I leapt sounds as though I did so with abandon. Honestly, I am not that fearless nor reckless. Two things I gave up after my toddler years. That said, I had plenty of room for improvement.
As I prepared to traverse the country with my ten year old Subaru and my still creased tent, I did all those things one should do before leaving structured society. I made a budget, and I…well, actually that is all I did. I asked advice. I borrowed provisions. I looked up where I was going, albeit, I did that a day ahead of getting to where I was going.
I followed roads that I did not know existed. I heard the stories from strangers—some who became friends. There were more dry days than wet, more cold days than hot, and more positive experiences than not. Ah, and, more good pie than dehydrated meals.
But what if I sat on my porch this morning and was still dreaming of taking such a trip? What if I never took that mindful leap? Maybe something just as grand would have occurred, but it would not have been this. This being nights alone in a tent in the middle of national parks listening to elks’ bugle; days spent finding out what was around the next curve of the road or path in the woods. The nights of strange noises and mornings of hot coffee. There was the full moon dancing over the Grand Tetons. It seems there are more memories than I can hold at times.
There is also gratitude that this life has afforded me the good health, the time, and resources to make such a journey, but whatever journey is still out there, I hope I will listen and abide by the call. I hope that even more for others I meet. Others who share their calling but have not yet picked up the line.
There is no criticism or judgement. How could there be? I do not pretend to know what it feels like to walk in another’s shoes or hold another’s dreams. All I think I know is this: when the whistle train blows and the tracks vibrate blocks away, I will hear the call and feel the desire to be on board. And, maybe sometime I will.