Last month, I was lost. It happened as I was pulling my gear together for a two-night backpacking trip into the Guadalupes with David Nobles, and I couldn’t find my hiking boots. If I’d had any suspicion they weren’t exactly where they were supposed to be I wouldn’t have waited until the night before the trip to look for them, but it never occurred to me that I wouldn’t be there.
They were great boots, too – Keen Siskiyous. I bought them at REI in Dallas last winter and wore them the first time on my February solo trip to Big Bend. I also wore them to Guadalupe Peak with the Iron Men in March, and later on a backpacking trip in June with Chad, Cory, and Clark. They were so comfortable, they were so cushy, I once wore them around town the day after doing a 19-mile long run, to give my sore feet a treat.
And I would’ve bet real money that they were in my backpacking closet under the stairs in my garage, but when I went to get them Wednesday night, they weren’t there. I looked for them at my next best place, my clothes closet, but they weren’t in there, either. After that, I had nowhere to look. I was done. It was over. I knew if I didn’t find them right away I’d probably never find them at all.
Fortunately for the backpacking trip I still had my old boots, a pair of Vasques with lots of rocky miles on them. They performed well even if they stayed wet for two days due to the rain. And they didn’t cause any blisters until the day we hiked down from the mountains. But I wouldn’t have gotten any blisters at all had I worn my Keens.
I know, it is only a pair of boots, and some of you lose things all the time and you seem able to maintain a grip on reality and don’t feel compelled to write an entire essay about the experience. Good for you.
As for me, I am dependent on my routines and processes; when they fail, my life begins to make no sense at all. All my best plans start to unravel and I wonder whether the future has anything left for me. It is a personality thing, I suppose.
As for my wife Cyndi, she tends to drop her stuff on the first flat surface she comes to, having been handed that particular skill by her mom. She’s more focused than her mom, though, and she’s not messy. Cyndi has a pattern and organization to her things that are important to her, even if sometimes unrecognizable to me. Its just that she lays her things down as soon as possible because she’s ready to move on to whatever is next. She is a woman of great focus and determination, but because she is so full of energy, living in the present moment, she’s already moved past whatever she had in her arms and leaped toward the next activity. It’s all about moving on, for her.
So when Cyndi loses something, it could be, well, anywhere. There is always the chance of finding it somewhere someday. There is always hope.
Me, I tend to put my stuff in the same place every time. Not that I am organized like a master mechanic who puts his tools in their marked and labeled place; I’m not like that, but I am a creature of self-defined routine. I live my life following the processes I’ve developed over the years, and I am loath to change something if it works for me. Process demands predictability, and I am very predictable. I tend to put my stuff back where I got it, which is where it’s always been. It’s all about continuity for me.
When I lose something, it’s really lost, and the chance of finding it disappears almost immediately. Hope is lost. I get wobbly on my pegs and wonder, “What else is lost? Is my pickup still in the garage? Is my trombone in its case? Is Midland still in Texas? Does Cyndi still love me? Is there even such a thing as love?”
Regarding my boots, I had hoped I mixed them with someone else’s gear after the June backpacking trip. I usually change from my boots into my comfy Crocs for the ride home, and maybe my boots accidently went home with someone else who forgot who they belonged to and didn’t know how to return them. But, no joy there. None of my backpacking companions had them
Cory suggested, “Maybe you left them at the Pine Springs trailhead, in the men’s room, when you changed clothes for the ride home.” That is a depressing thought, but it’s the most likely scenario. It’s more probable than assuming I put them someplace new and different at home. Bummer.
What will I do now, you might ask? I will: (1) buy another pair of boots on my next trip to REI, and (2) remember that the value of my life is bigger than my routines, that it is dependent on God himself, and he is never lost.
“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32
To learn more about Berry’s newest book, “Running With God:” www.runningwithgodonline.com
Follow Berry on Twitter at @berrysimpson … Contact Berry directly: firstname.lastname@example.org