My wet and cold fingers cling to the black roots. My lungs are burning, my ankle hurts.
"You've got dirt on your face," my boyfriend shouts from above, while a few rust-red stones crash 30 feet into the gorge. I'm touching my nose with my hand. Dirt. Dirt and blood. I don't know where it came from. Maybe from that little crash we just had. I wipe my fingers on my rain jacket that's sprinkled with raindrops. Then I reach for the next ledge and pull myself further up. The view over the snow-capped mountains of the Absaroka Range becomes more and more breathtaking, fog lies torn between the rugged peaks. On the muddy bottom you can find traces of moose.
I could also sit in the warmth now and watch TV series in which someone runs through a forest with blood in his face. My problem has always been that I wanted to be that "someone" myself. And the more I had become this person over the last years, the less I can stay inside of a house anymore. Where the walls come closer. Where I feel stranger every day, after walking barefoot through the snow and reaching with both hands into the velvety leaves of spring.
There is nothing more honest and absolute than jumping into nature with one's heart. To find ourselves again. The child in us. And maybe even our true destiny.
My hobbies are photography, writing and travelling. That's what I spit in my profile when I signed up for Facebook over eight years ago. Hobbies. Something that one does as a marginal phenomenon next to real life and for which one usually has no time. But somehow this has always felt wrong. So I walked out. To find out what's going on. Why I don't have time for what feels right. To find out what real life actually is. And with every cloud that I saw lying on the meadow, every wave that washed coloured grains of sand on my toes and every tree that pulled me deeper into the forest with its smell of damp wood, I realized more who I am and what I am able to achieve and to do.
Let go. Let go of everything. Of all the ideals we grow up with. All the frames with which we're being struck against the wall. Everything we think we need to have. Everything we
believe we have to be.
The first step is to question all that. Wiping the whole damn table clean of life plans. Those that others have made for us and those that we have drawn for ourselves. Tear open the hole-puncher and toss all the shitty paper pieces across the room. What if it is not garbage, but confetti? And we've only been looking at it from the wrong perspective all the time?
What if I don't need an umbrella because I love the feeling of the rain running into my eyes as if someone was crying over me with joy? What if I don't wear shoes because I want to feel the heat of the asphalt, the softness of the cornfield and the dust of the dirt road under my feet? What if I suddenly start living in the place where we all originally came from: Outside. From icy nights under stars. I mean, thousands of stars, far away from the light pollution of big cities. From mountain overhangs that can break off at any time. Red desert sand that burns in the midday heat. Forest paths that lose themselves in infinity and are not shown on any map of the world.
There's something out there we forgot. From which we isolate ourselves. Something we're trying to push into flower beds. On windowsills. So we can look at it while it is in a nice order. Maybe because we know somewhere deep in our hearts that if we break the ceramic pot and let it grow, it could overwhelm us. Nature. In front of our window. And in our souls. It belongs together. No matter how hard we try to separate it. We have so many excuses. The job. No time. Rain. Winter. All the shit we bought from the money we're going to work for, which is why we don't have time.
Break the first ceramic pot. You don't have to burn down the whole greenhouse. But imagine how crazy it would be to scratch the cobwebs from the raincoat next rainy Sunday afternoon, open the door and walk out. To finally give the whole Jack Wolfskin multifunctional crap a real function.
Where are you going, man? Doesn't matter! Just get out. There's no destination. That's the point. It's not about where to go, it's about where to come from. It is about touching leaves. Feeling the bark of a tree. Having smelled flowers. Feeling the wind reaching into your hair. Seeing what shades of gray and blue the sky has. Looking up in the middle of the forest and being surprised how the treetops lean over your head like a roof (this works at almost every point in the forest!).
Don't think about your job, your phone, your dinner. Don't even think, just be. Just be there. Forget time. Stand still and feel the ground. How stable it is. Sometimes it starts moving right at this moment. Close your eyes and feel the air, the temperature, the wind. Listen. To the birds, the cars, the water. How this moment suddenly becomes one of those music videos in which everything is perfect. How you forget that it is "bad" weather. Because there is no such thing. It is like when you were a kid. And you always wanted to do something. When you didn't give a shit if it was pouring or 100 degrees in the shade. Do you remember?
I threw the first small ceramic pot and travelled a bunch of capitals in Europe. Then I dropped a larger plant pot and began to rent cars and drive along coastlines. Until I emptied my whole windowsill and travelled solo through the entire USA for four months.
Only to finally torch the entire greenhouse with the adjacent garden afterwards by quitting my permanent job, starting my own business as a digital nomad, leaving people behind who couldn't and didn't want to follow my dreams and buying a Tiny House where I only have left what I need. What I really need.
While I am now realizing that it is still way too much. Because right now I'm with a small carry-on suitcase at my fiancé's place in the Rocky Mountains for five months - and I haven't used half of the crap I took with me at all. By not missing anything at all.
When I'm out here between soft fog, deep green firs, turquoise rivers and small wooden cabins, nature gives me everything I need to be the happiest person in the world. I have a pair of shoes, a pair of trousers and a jacket. I bleed happily with dirt on my face through the woods. I have never been richer in my life than now. I have never possessed more in my life. I have never lived more honestly in my life. The feeling of just being. With wide open eyes, wide open heart.
Sometimes it all starts with a Sunday walk in the rain. Sometimes you have to start smashing things to find what you've lost.