The other night I camped out on top a mountain. I flew solo for the night. It was a clear night but misty clouds consumed the top of the mountain in thirty minute intervals throughout the night. My headlight illuminated the haze in front of me as I read and waited for the next patch of visible Milky Way glory. I did this all night. Not much sleep but lots of time to think and see an unreal sky of stars whenever it decided to show itself. One moment filled with the coolness of a cloud touching my skin, the next moment filled with the wonder of looking at stars millions of light years away. I didn’t desire to be in the clouds, I longed to see the reality of the night sky behind the haze.
I thought about how in my own life I tend to live in the fog of the clouds. I tend to live inside of my own ideas and plans. I like to be an idealist and obsess over ‘the next big thing’, whatever that is in my life. It could be a trip in the future, a new purchase, or a day that’s been marked on the calendar for awhile. I tend to rush into this stage of drawing up plans any moment I sit there with nothing to do. As if fulfillment will come from within my own ideas. As if I can generate my own happiness. I block myself from the reality of the stars. Of the greater and more real gift of life itself. How it is, not how I want it to be. I create this fog inside of my own head with all my ideas and plans, which hinders my view and experience of the clear sky of reality. A reality much richer and wilder than anything I could draw up.
This road trip pushes me out of the clouds and into the wonder of just being. We are working with rough outlines and no itineraries, figuring it out along the way. I am consciously trying to let go of my ideas and expectations and pressures to have everything together. And allowing myself to be met by what is in front of me, who is in front of me, and how good it is that I am here. A new motto to go with this way of life is this: the unexpected becomes the usual. A life of surprises is far more fulfilling than a life of predictability. When I try and live in my world of ideas and control, then I am met by the brutal reality that I cannot control life and my expectations and plans come crashing down. So whether I submit to my smallness or try to live in the clouds I create, I will be met by the confirmation of the truth that reality exists apart from my doing. Therefore, I might as well lean into that truth instead of trying to fight against it.
“It is so easy to avoid considering reality because it is not all we hoped for; so to approach it implies a greater commitment and toil. We easily accuse reality of not matching our comforting dreams, perhaps even as we change rules of the game, and consequently take on the attitude of a victim or proclaim ourselves powerless before circumstances.”
— Luigi Giussani, The Journey to the Truth is an Experience