I don’t really have anything to say. No insights to impart. No strong emotions to evaluate. No real progress in becoming . . . whatever it is I am supposed to become. I’m becoming older, of course, but since I’m not particularly becoming wiser, I’m not sure that becoming older is any sort of becoming at all.
And yet, I’m still trying. Still surviving. So that’s something.
So far I’m sort of sticking to my sort of New Year’s resolutions. (“Sort of New Year’s resolutions” because the resolutions came first. The New Year was more happenstance than a cause of the resolutions.) To that end, I haven’t been eating sugar and I’m staying away from wheat. Both great successes! I am back to eating a large bowl of raw vegetables with a sprinkling of lettuce almost every day, so that’s good. Rain has kept me from walking much. And lack of something to say (or perhaps simply laziness) has kept me from writing. But mostly, I’m doing good.
I am still preparing for that mythical cross-country road/camping/hiking trip I’ve been planning for so many months. (Mythical because despite all my planning, I continue to be tethered in one place.) Since I’ve already taken care of most of the big items such as tent and sleep system, I’m concentrating more on emergency gear. I do not intend to be one of those people who get written up in Reader’s Digest, having cut off an arm to free myself from a rockslide, or gotten lost during a simple day hike and causing millions of dollars in search and rescue efforts.
To be honest, I think basic survival instincts are more important than emergency supplies. For example, from my wandering in the desert, I’ve learned that if I step off a trail to answer nature’s call, I need to mark the direction I came from. If I will eventually need to backtrack, I mark any fork in the road so I don’t have to guess which way to go. I use trekking poles to help with balance in treacherous areas, and I try to make sure my footing is solid before I move up or downhill. But just in case such basics aren’t enough, I’ve bought a loud survival whistle that includes a compass and a mirror for signaling. I got a Gerber Dime Tool and fifty feet of military grade paracord. Admittedly, I have no idea what to do with the cord since it’s not appropriate for climbing back up if I fall off a cliff (unless perhaps I double up the cord), but paracord must be important because it’s on every hiking gear list I’ve ever read. Add to these few items some waterproof matches (though I would be hesitant to start a fire; I can just see neophyte me accidentally burning down a forest), an emergency blanket, and an emergency medical kit, and I’m as prepared for an emergency as I will ever be. (I will have water and food, of course, and probably even a camping quilt for even the shortest wilderness hike.)
(I’m only a neophyte when it comes to emergencies. I’ve hiked hundreds of miles in various wilderness areas by myself though admittedly, some of the wilderness areas were pretty tame with only an occasional Mojave green rattler or a few coyotes to get the adrenaline going).
We’ve had a couple of days of a very cold deluge, which makes me wonder how I will deal with rain during my travels, but that’s what motels are for. (Supposedly the tents I got come with adequate rainflies, though why a rain cover for a tent is called a fly I don’t know. Perhaps because if you don’t stake it down properly it flies away.)
I have used up my daily quota of parentheses, so I’ll leave you with a quote I recently saw that I’m trying to take to heart, though it goes against my very nature: If you don’t understand, let it go. All part of my survival.
(Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)