Escape Velocity

Escape Velocity

I’ve been feeling uneasy. It’s been this way, more or less, for over a year. 

I went into last upland season feeling rushed and underprepared. It didn’t really pan out that way; things went fine. But in my head I always felt a half-click off.

I’ve been battling, trying to get through it, pin point the root of this nagging weight of uncertainty.

I think I allowed life’s hurdles to stack up: deaths in the family, illness, death of a longtime friend, aging parents, car accident, asinine opinions of complete strangers — there’s a long list, drama-filled and bleak. 

Sharing this for context, not sympathy. I fully recognize everyone is going through something. These challenges aren’t unique to me though the impact has felt all mine.

Normally the retreat to bird hunting is grounding for me. It lets me shutdown the outside noise and drift into wide open spaces. Flush all the angst into fall winds and replace the shadows with the heft of warm feathers brought to hand by weary dogs. 

And now I realize what has happened. I’ve built up an adventure tolerance. The last few seasons of intensely challenging upland hunts (Way Upland Series) have callused my senses. Standard adventures, “normal” upland hunts seem easy and routine. There’s nothing wrong with sensible, less strenuous, less dangerous adventures. But I don’t want it easy.

Escape velocity is the minimum speed that a moving body (a rocket) must have to escape the gravitational field of earth and move outward into space.

Last year during the upland season I never reached escape velocity. My moving body could not shed the weight of my world. My adventures weren’t inhospitable enough to force my undivided attention. I was bird hunting on auto-pilot so that my brain could continue to muddle through all the adversity at home. 

Obviously I need to work on being present. I know I should try to be in the moment wherever I am, especially with the dogs, especially in wild places. (Even without those components I suppose – though right now that sounds pretty terrible.) That’s certainly a much healthier way to exist.

But it’s too late for this epiphany. The season is here and I have no interest in feeling dulled any longer. 

For now, I’m headed back to consuming, tolerance-overwhelming adventure. I’ll work on being present, too. But sometimes it’s easier for me when there’s no choice.

Liftoff in T-minus 5….4….3…

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