Spending too much time with my thoughts.

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    Sep 08, 2011 10:13 PM GMT
    Here's my latest blog post, for anyone interested.

    Curveballs and Sinkers
    The effects of spending so much time with my thoughts.

    The Yankees are on top of the AL East, and they have the best record in the league. But as happy as that makes me, this post is not about baseball. It’s about the curveballs this journey has thrown me, and the danger of sinking you face when you spend too much time alone.

    A while ago I wrote about the physical challenges I faced the first week on the road. My body was in a lot of pain at the beginning of the trek, but it got better in just a few days. My muscles just needed to get used to the new demands I was making of them. I am happy to report that, more than two months into the walk, I am yet to suffer even a blister on my foot (getting running shoes instead of hiking boots was the best decision I’ve ever made), and regular stretching has kept my hip and leg muscles from tensing up.

    The mind, however, is a lot harder to appease than your quads. I gave you all a glimpse into my feelings when I wrote about about homesickness setting in. Well, that was just the beginning.

    I won’t say that the weeks since Richmond have been bad. On the contrary, I have met some wonderful people, and I have made a lot of friends. I love being places I had never been before and exploring cities which I didn’t know were so much fun. These weeks, however, have been difficult.

    I spend hours on end alone. These hours inevitably lead to lengthy inner dialogues. (And I do mean “inner;” I haven’t talked to myself, except for once, when I saw a group of teenagers who looked like they wanted trouble, and I decided to put on the “mental case” façade to keep them away--it worked.) I have always been something of a loner. Never have I ever been afraid of solitude--if anything, I’ve always cherished it. But this time, I’ve realized, I’m facing a new animal. Having all this time for my thoughts is in many ways a blessing, but it is also a curse.

    Your mind will bring you down in a way your body never could. And when your mind goes into a “funk” it takes a lot longer to get it out of it than it does to stretch a muscle into submission.

    This journey is changing me. The people I have met are changing me. When I left Richmond, I got a note from my hosts saying that they felt like they had known me a lot longer than a couple of days. When I said goodbye to Sue and Allen in Warrenton, NC, Allen echoed that sentiment--we had spent a fun evening listening to part of Allen’s impressive vinyl record collection, and by the next day it felt like we had all known each other longer than the 20 hours that had elapsed since we’d met.

    I have thus come to realize that I have been starting every day for the last two months either alone, or by saying goodbye to a friend. This takes a toll.

    It has taken me weeks to get my spirit back on its feet--so to speak. So if you’ve wondered why I haven’t been posting more, there you have it. But I’m finally snapping out of it. I have realized this is just part of the process, and rather than let the constant farewells bring me down, I’ve decided to focus on the continuous hellos. And rather than fight the nagging thoughts that take over my mind when I’m alone, I’m going to let them take hold, and make the life changes that they call for. After all, It would be sad to go through something like this and return home as if nothing happened.

    The changes will only go so far--I will always, for example, bleed pinstripes--but I know that those that do occur will be for the better. And with that, I apologize for the interruption. Regular posting will now resume.

    Constantino Diaz-Duran is a fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University. He is chronicling his walk from New York to Los Angeles to celebrate his eligibility for American citizenship. Follow Constantino’s progress.
  • commoncoll

    Posts: 1222

    Sep 08, 2011 10:38 PM GMT
    Where are you now? How do you find hosts? What do you do if you can't find a host? Camp/hotel? Are you sponsored on this trip? Can we donate to you?

    I honestly don't know what to say to you. I've never been on a journey like yours so I don't have perspective for you. But I'm glad you're getting used to yourself.

    I look forward to your updates.
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    Sep 08, 2011 10:40 PM GMT
    You are WALKING from NY to LA? Walking..
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    Sep 08, 2011 11:10 PM GMT
    commoncoll saidWhere are you now? How do you find hosts? What do you do if you can't find a host? Camp/hotel? Are you sponsored on this trip? Can we donate to you?

    I honestly don't know what to say to you. I've never been on a journey like yours so I don't have perspective for you. But I'm glad you're getting used to yourself.

    I look forward to your updates.
    Thanks! I received a grant from ASU that's covering 60% of my budget. The rest is my savings (which will be pretty much gone), and I have gotten some donations. If you'd like to help out that way, you'll find a link (as well as more info about me) at http://www.cddny.com. I really appreciate you asking about that. I have a tent for when I can't find a place to stay. I can't afford motels more than once a week.

    raindrops saidYou are WALKING from NY to LA? Walking..
    Yup. That is, indeed, what I am doing.
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    Sep 08, 2011 11:23 PM GMT
    this is awesome, dang. almost jealous.
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    Sep 09, 2011 1:19 AM GMT
    jayp saidthis is awesome, dang. almost jealous.
    I know someone else doing it right now, who started a few months before me. He's a lawyer who got burned out by his law firm, quit, and went on a trek similar to mine. I see you're headed for law school, so who knows... Maybe you'll end up doing it someday! ;-)
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    Sep 09, 2011 4:55 AM GMT
  • JP85257

    Posts: 3284

    Sep 09, 2011 7:44 AM GMT
    I love the insights in to your mind. How are you doing Time Wise? Are you where you should be or whats up?
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    Sep 10, 2011 11:01 PM GMT
    Thanks! I'm more or less on track. I'll have to make changes, though. I've realized that if I want this project to be worthwhile, I have to spend more than just one night in each town I visit. I'll have to make the route shorter, in order to allocate more time to each place I visit.
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    Sep 10, 2011 11:13 PM GMT
    Just know I wish I could meet ya at the 'finish line' and massage those undoubtedly tired muscles and lean down and whisper in your ear, "A penny for your thoughts?"