Chapter 2

2015.06.11
Last edited: 2017.01.26

In the rush of the city, we lose ourselves in the crowd. In material objects, we lose ourselves in the things that come to own us. In the constructs we accept without question, we lose ourselves in the ideas of others. In our quest to survive, we can lose ourselves in the journey. In the outskirts of nowhere, we let ourselves be lost. In the depths of nothingness, where all that is left is ourselves to explore, we begin to find ourselves. And so we go into the woods to come into our own, to become our own gods, to know ourselves beyond a doubt with mastered minds, far beyond our once hindered sights. This is the nowhere and somewhere, the place between mind and reality. We may not know it, but we are always there, stuck between version of the truth, discerned through our subjective lenses of existence, built up into constructs to govern our interaction with the universe. We are the universe. We are the universe contemplating itself. We could be gods.

The Journey Begins

It was mid-afternoon by the time we reached Bridgepoint. I had only been here once before, but I always wanted to come back. Maybe I just like the view, or maybe I dream of flying away to a place that holds more opportunities. I dunno. Bridgepoint isn't anything special, just a dirt road running along the top of a ridge. Looking west you can see endless green meadows out to where the earth drops away. At night, you can just make out the lights from Atlas, the biggest city on the west coast. At the top of the ridge, there's a old fire lookout tower they don't use any more, and enough solitude that you could almost bottle it up and take it home with you. We drove along the ridge for about an hour before reaching the tower. It was nice to be out, to be away from parents and teachers and kids and everything. I stepped outside the car to take in the higher altitude air. Looking around, it was just as I remembered, a perch on top of the world. We grabbed our backpacks from the car and made our way into the lookout tower. It was in pristine condition, but it was completely bare. It definitely hadn't been used in a while. We sat down on the bench seats and set our backpacks on the ground.
Henrik, "So now what?"
"Are you hungry?" I asked, tossing him a sandwich.
Henrik, "Yeah, thanks."
Danny, "First order of business: gear check. Let's see what you've got in the bag."
Henrik unzips his backpack, emptying the contents onto the floor one by one.

As Henrik finishes unpacking all of this stuff, he looks up at us awaiting approval. Danny and I sit there for a moment, impressed and wondering whether we had packed to much in our own backpacks.
"Well I guess you don't really need much more than that."
Henrik, "I still don't know where we're going."
"We haven't decided yet, but we've got some ideas," I said.
Danny, "I think you'll be just fine as long as Sam doesn't drag us into some crazy jungle expedition. And we can always buy gear along the way if we need it. As long as you're okay with having so few things."
Henrik, "Yeah, I'd rather be light. So what are your ideas Sam? Where do you want to go?"
"Um, well there's this place I've been reading about in the Restless Mountains. I think it'd be cool to go there. There are all these monasteries and stuff hidden away in the mountain valleys. Since we don't really have much direction in our adventure, I thought maybe someone there might be able to help us figure out what we should do."
Henrik, "Sounds good to me."
Danny, "We'll need to bring some warmer clothes though. Well, you will," he says looking at Henrik. "Sam and I have most of the bases covered, though I'm thinking we should lighten our packs a bit if we're going to be hiking that much."
"Probably. I tend to over pack."

We spent the next few hours laying all our gear out on the floor, amending our gear lists, discussing plans, and figuring out what other information we would need before setting off. From what I had read, the main trail through the Restless Mountains was fairly straight forward, and there should be enough people on it this time of year that even if we did get in trouble, help would come along. Since it was summer now, most of the snow at the trail level should be melted. Water wouldn't be a problem, but we'd need to pack a lot of food with us.

After a while, we started winding down for the night, further depleting our food supplies and working to clean up the mess we made before the sun set.
"Have you guys decided how you're going to tell your parents?"
Danny, "I don't know yet. Hmm, you know, I'll probably just tell them once we have a day picked out."
Henrik, "Yeah, I dunno. I hadn't really thought about it. I'll just tell them when I leave, I guess."
"We should all do it at the same time so our parents don't talk to each other before we have a chance to tell them." I contemplated whether any of our parents would be angry with us going on this random adventure. "I think they'll be happy for us, that we're going out to see the world."
Danny and Henrik nodded in agreement, though their faces didn't convey confidence.

Sometimes you have to leave things behind to chase a dream. You can't have a goal without a dream, but you can't reach a goal stuck in a dream. I've been wanting to leave for so long, and finally I will be able move beyond fantasizing and actually realize these goals. I was so excited. We were actually going to do this. There wasn't any reason why any of this shouldn't work, and I was so eager to have an adventure beyond the mundane happenings of Brentwood.

The stars were starting to come out and the moon lit up the inside of the tower, guiding our conversation into the night. Eventually, our eyes could no longer fight against the darkness, and we were forced to bring the night to a close. No matter how good a time we were having up there, all days must come to an end, and today was no different. We laid out our sleeping pads and crawled into our sleeping bags, cramming next to each other to fight for space on the pads and to leech the others' body heat.

In the endless universe of infinite opportunities, here we were on top of a mountain all by ourselves. Flickers of light in the distance marked other travelers in this life we may never meet. To them, we were the travelers in their lives. But we had each other, and we were the only things that we needed. We were on a quest. We didn't know what for yet, be we knew we were going somewhere. We were living the dream; this was my paradise.

"Ugh. I can't get to sleep. I can't stop thinking about everything."
Henrik, "You could do what I do. Bamboo breathing."
"What's that?"
Henrik turned to me. "Instead of letting your breath out all at once, exhale in segments. I usually do three to five exhales for each inhale. It seems to work any time I need to clear my mind."
"Thanks. I'll see if that works."

I cuddled up as close to Henrik as I could in my sleeping bag, closing my eyes, and trying to bring my mind back out of my dreams so that I could get some sleep.

Inhale.
Exhale. Exhale. Exhale. Exhale.
Inhale.
Exhale. Exhale. Exhale. Exhale.
Inhale.
Exhale. Exhale. Exhale. Exhale.