"It does not matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop." (Confucius, I think)
I've been thinking of this line rather frequently these days. Being back in the town where I grew up makes me constantly consider my life, and how it's changed, and how I've changed, and even more how I'm still the same. This journey that we're on now, it's more than a journey between states and sites and landscapes, it's a journey to try to find out what we want out of life. Sometimes that can be quite the overwhelming task, and it can get discouraging, and it is of course difficult, but I keep thinking "just don't stop." Keep going, keep searching, keep finding your passions and keep asking yourself what you want.
That said, we've been enjoying our time here in Nashville. But I still have yet to write about Florida. From Louisiana, we made our way to Gulf Islands National Seashore. Chip had been there before, and remembered loving it so we were all excited to check it out.
The place is an island with a campground in the center. It was absolute paradise. Beach on all sides, walkable from the campsite, and the weather was ideal. So our week there consisted of yoga on the beach, morning swims in the ocean, beach walks, music around the campfire in the evenings, good food, beautiful skies, etc. I really really enjoyed that place. It was so beautiful. Swimming in the ocean every day did wonders for my soul (and my skin). It made me seriously consider living closer to the ocean on a permanent basis.
The National Seashore used to be a State Park and before that it was just Fort Pickens, one of several forts in the area dates back to the Civil War. It is said to be haunted, and some of the ruins definitely had some crazy energy. One night we went exploring and climbed through and around some of them... definitely something going on there.
The Blue Angels are just across the bay, and so we were lucky enough to get to see some of their practices. Those guys blow my mind. One morning they were in the air for an hour, flying right over our campsite, so we hightailed it to the beach to get a better view of the whole show. I wished my brother could have been there too. He digs that stuff.
I decided while I was there that I wanted to go fishing. I've never been fishing (due in part to a traumatic fish experience I had as a child), and there was a pier at the park from which you could fish without a permit. If I ever eat animal products again, I want to be the bringer of death. I want to look that animal in the face and really understand the balance of life. So here's the chance-- my buddies wanted to fish, and so I decided to fish. I would eat what I caught. Because I want to experience everything I possibly can in life. So we were all fishing, and I said a little prayer to the universe, to allow me this experience, thanking the fish for offering its life, etc. And I caught one. I was the first one of our group with a catch. It was a pinfish- too small to eat but one of the other fishermen suggested we use it for bait, since the brined shrimp we'd brought weren't the best. Ok, then. If I was going to be responsible for taking its life, then I would take its life. So Chip held it down, while I thanked it and then cut off its head. It was hard and it made me feel weird, but I also understood that it was part of this cycle we as humans are in. So we cut it up and used it for bait. We never caught a bigger fish for eating, but part of that pinfish is frozen still, so perhaps there's still the chance that its life will bring the experience of eating a fish I catch myself.
It was sad to have to leave that place, but we did. We spent 2 nights in a state park outside of Montgomery Alabama. That place was the greenest place we've been yet, so it really felt like entering the South again. We've missed that lush vegetation. After a relaxing day, we made our way north to finally reach Nashville.
The camper is parked in my dad's back yard, and we've all been busy since arriving. I had boxes of stuff stored here to go through and get rid of (which I've done successfully). There's been lots of work to do, helping friends and family. And of course there's been lots and lots of time spent catching up with family and friends. I sincerely appreciate the chance to spend time with my loved ones here. My visits in the past couple years have always been only 3 or 4 days, so there was never enough time. While it's still been busy this time around, 2 weeks allows for much more quality time.
I'm enjoying cooking in a big kitchen, having regular access to a CLEAN shower, and being able to sleep past sunrise. But I do miss the clear skies of the west, campfires every night (though we have had one fire since being here), and sleeping in a tent. I'm really grateful for the rain and thunderstorms. Last night I sat on the porch with my dad just watching the lightning. I've missed Tennessee storms.
We're here until Sunday, and then we continue up to Indiana. Still things to do and people to see. And it'll be good to be on the road again.