Thin Air and Clear Skies

It’s so loud. So loud. So. LOUD. It’s SO LOUD that I can’t hear myself think. I can’t hear myself yell over the sound of laughter, crying, the ceiling fans blowing. The bell rings and I stop. I breathe in, I can’t talk over the bell—they don’t understand what I’m saying anyway, I breathe. 5 minutes left. I breathe.

 

The school I teach at in Thailand is an outdoor, open hall school. Each classroom has two doors (so twice the noise entering) and equipped with multiple fans to blow hot air, adolescent B.O and my small American English speaking voice around and out the open windows. It’s loud. My voice is quiet in the classroom but loud in my head. It’s loud going over lesson plans (or lack there of,) loud going over weekend plans, evening plans, training plans, self-reflections, and plans for self improvement. Loud and unable to shut-the-hell-up. Loud in my head and loud in my classroom.

 

This past weekend I left. I got on a bus and rode all the way up to Chaing Mai. The entire bus ride I relished in the quiet (how is it that Thai kids are so noisy, but the adults are so quiet?) I left my sunglasses on and starred out the window at the approaching mountains. I was readying my lungs for some thin air and clear skies.

Saturday morning my new friend, Andrew, and I were in the mountains. It was quiet. It was so so quiet. My brain was working hard—but not hard at getting the kids to listen and learn, it was working hard at maneuvering a mountain bike over sticks, rocks and vertical terrain. My brain had finally shut up and all it was doing was getting me over the next switchback safely.

 

 

"I rented these pads, I'm sure ass hell going to use them!"

“I rented these pads, I’m sure ass hell going to use them!”

Thailand Flag at the top of the mountain

Thailand Flag at the top of the mountain

Coffee 30/baht (about a dollar)

Coffee 30/baht (about a dollar)

Coffee plantation

Coffee plantation

SO happy

SO happy

 

 

 

 

Don’t Flip

I love discovering new things, (duh, who doesn’t!?) But this past week I was able to rediscover a new part of a great State Park here in Maryland, Patapsco State Parkis way bigger than I realized. Last summer and fall I had only been trail running and hiking in one section of it, this week I went across the river and found myself wandering in a completely different section of the park.

Deer

Not only did I discover a new part of the park, but I discovered it two ways and had a completely different experience each time. If you’ve read this blog in the past you have by now realized that I have zero sense of direction, which I’m okay with for the most part, I just have to remind myself of that from time to time and make sure I have the time to be lost.

 

My first venture at the new Patapsco entrance was a hike. As I was hiking all I could think about was how great this area would be for trail running, (I’m again not running due to my stressed out sacrum) then the further I hiked my mind continued to wander from running, to nature to:  what am I doing with my life? To what am I doing tomorrow? To holy shit these squirrels are NOT afraid to get close to me!

Hiking alone brings forth a lot of thoughts and feelings, I’m unable to let go and just be in the woods. My mind races and I get really distracted by the thought bubbles floating above my head. So distracted in fact that this particular hike I totally forgot what color I was supposed to be following (Blue? Orange? Green? oh man, I’m lost!) My brain shifted to a bit of panic mode of not knowing where I was, knowing that I should leave the park by a certain time and the fact that my water bottle was running low, I had no food and the mercury had already climbed to 98 before I got on the trail.

 

Then reality came back and I realized that I really didn’t HAVE to be anywhere, so I tired enjoying being lost. I wandered, (not all those who wander are lost.) I eventually found my way to the road and walked the two miles back to my car on the safety of no chance of getting more lost along the river and out of the woods. Over all it was a great hike, I didn’t solve any of my life’s problems but I did have a great afternoon wandering and discovering myself.

 

Yesterday I was able to enjoy the same park a different way. In preparation for an adventure race I’m doing in 9 days (The crazy race I got myself signed up for) I’m trying my legs at mountain biking—if you remember, I went once when I was out in Oregon visiting my brother, so this time I went out at it alone and for a few more miles. The trails at Patapsco are narrower than in OR, the hills were shorter and steeper, the roots seemed more daunting and the potential of me flipping over my handlebars far greater.

I didn’t flip over, I think this has something to do with me being a big baby and super wimpy. I’m slow. I think really hard when riding. Unlike cycling, where I can zone out and ride for hours, mountain biking forced me to focus and use my brainpower fully. I kept my eyes where I wanted the bike to go, not where I DIDN’T want it to go, like over a cliff or into a tree. The second my brain wanted to shift to ‘life-talk’ I’d hit a rock, or go the wrong way into a stump, so my mind stayed focused on what was directly ahead of me—forgot what I had passed, I wasn’t worried about a mile or two down the trail, on the mountain bike I am where I am. If not, I’ll surely crash.

 

I’m going to let you figure out the life lesson I learned on the trail both days. No need for explanation.