“We’re not lost. We’re meandering.”
- Rob Collier, June 27th, while driving through the mountains of South Carolina (not originally on our planned route).
1. to follow a winding course
2. to wander at random
3. to proceed aimlessly or with little purpose
Today June 27th marks the start of the third week in our journey. When you are on the road, it is easy to lose track of the date, the time, meals, interactions, geographical location… to lose track of grounding. We are on the move quite literally from sun up to sun down most days. When we are not moving on a bus, we are moving on our feet. We proceed with purpose from events, to workdays, to the homes of gracious hosts. It is rare that we have a day like today.
Today we were wanderers. Our only commitment was a Truth & Salvage Concert at Rhythm & Brews in Chattanooga, TN at 9 p.m. We had the day to get from Asheville to Chattanooga and had been offered an opportunity to go rafting at the Nantahala Outdoor Center. After three hours of driving we learned that there are in fact multiple NOC outposts on several different rivers, and at 1 pm we arrived at the Chatooga River outpost in South Carolina. We were supposed to be on the Nantahala River in Bryson City, NC over two hours away. We got back on the bus and turned around. We’re used to getting turned around at this point, especially when I navigate. As we backtracked our steps across state lines, the insightful Rob spoke words of wisdom: “We’re not lost. We’re meandering.”
This got me thinking (as Rob often does): too easily and too often meandering can be seen as futile, as a waste of time that indicates you are not living up to your potential or being a “productive member of society.” There is little value for meandering in our culture, especially in the microcosm that is the Dartmouth community. And yet meandering, while it may seem to not be the case, can be a source of grounding. It is when I meander through the grounds of Mink Brook Nature Preserve, gaze up at the stars from Lake Powahatan in Pisgah National Forest, jump off a rope swing in the mountains of North Carolina (perhaps less gracefully than others) that I gain perspective on the enormity and beauty of the world around me. I am one small fragment of a grand mosaic and in this I find grounding… find solace… find a sense of place.
So here are my words of advice inspired by Rob’s words of wisdom:
Take time to wander at random and proceed aimlessly.
Follow a winding course. This will be your grandest journey.
Cherish those who challenge you to keep meandering. Keep them close.
Always jump. Even if you lose your grip, slip down the rope swing onto open rock and scrape up the entirety of your leg. You’ll have friends who will bandage you up, make you laugh, and offer your chocolate. If you’re lucky, a few of them will be EMTs.
Get outside and play.
Take moments in your day, every single day, to enjoy honestly the warmth of the sunshine.
Meander alone. Meander with friends. Meander with strangers who will become your friends. Meander through the vastness of the world and celebrate the unknown.
Thank you to Rob Collier for journeying with us for these first two weeks of our summer adventure, for providing insight and solace, and for keeping the bus from breaking down. We love you and will miss you.
Kells (The Poor Wet Vegan)