Back when I inhabited a house, in the days before becoming a transient, I can remember sitting down at a table of sorts to gather my wits for the day. Relaxing, breathing in and out, pondering.
In all actuality, this sitting and relaxing at a kitchen table wasn’t always the reality. There were a couple of years where I didn’t take time in the morning. I relaxed hit the snooze button. Primped and pondered daily attire. Considered possible morning meals. Then I rushed out the door. Life was life then, I forgot about living.
I’m not really that old, so that two years was the time right after graduating high school. I was sad and unsure. I didn’t know that breathing was important. I’m not entirely sure where I got so uncertain since my dad had taught me the value of breathing and living my whole life (I attribute it to my rebellious phase). Eventually I remembered though, and so I left that style of life and moved onto a style of living.
Before taking off on the adventure I lived a whole year where I sat and pondered at a kitchen table, something I had learned to do growing up with my dad — taking the first few moments of the day to really breath deep and live.
The first moments define the day. If one wakes up from a bad dream and has a bad attitude they have a choice right then to change it. If one takes the stance of not being a morning person (a stance I held for years) they miss out on the chance to change. Sure, one can come back from that. They can, say around midday, be happy and chipper and walk about smiling, but think of all the hours they lost that morning? All the negativity they swam through and breathed in up until that moment of change. All that life was just endured rather than lived.
Starting my junior year of high school I remember waking up early with my dad and sister and walking four miles every morning before school. 4:30 was always a comfortable time. We would wake up, brush our teeth, grab our walking sticks, and click clack our way down the road. We started silent, looking around, giving our companions a moment to gather their breath and wake up. The only sounds would be that of our walking sticks and the slow sound of Mother Earth stirring. We would look up at the stars and out to the woods. We walked along the high way so we were often interrupted by early morning commuters, but we didn’t mind. We would eventually gather enough independent thought to start conversation, and then we would. We would converse. We would speak of life and futures. We spoke of things my sister had read or things my dad had heard on the radio. I would often fall silent. I found my knowledge was far surpassed by my older sister’s and my father’s. I would instead listen and look to the stars. As 5:00 rolled around the stars would slowly fade, and the closer we got to the two mile mark the more the morning shone. The walk back was always filled with the beginning stages of daylight, as though Mother Earth was also gathering her breath and waking up. We said good morning to beavers, and spotted wolf tracks. The birds of Northern Minnesota, always changing depending on the season, would sing to/ for/ around us — I mean who really knows? All I know is that all that life made me live.
High school was tough. I was an outsider, though I’m not sure anyone but myself really knew it. I’m certain they did, but I didn’t talk about it. I was also terrible at learning the way our school taught. This last year I had the honor of working with kids in an alternative school, I taught them art. I came to realize I should have been in a school like that. Either way, the walking helped. The getting up every morning and being mindful of breath and my surroundings, it helped.
After the walk and before changing out of our walking clothes (typically just our pajamas) we would sit down at the table and dad would pour us each a cup of coffee. We would sit, listen to the radio, and drink coffee. By the time 6:30 rolled around we would be making our way back to our room to change into school clothes and then it was off to school.
I became a morning person at that time. My senior year took a toll on me, but I didn’t lose morning person status again til I was out on my own. However, I regained it.
This last year I was doing art teaching art, and living with a fellow artist who is now one of my closest friends. We met a little over a year ago and since then became super close. She taught me to breath again.
Every morning I woke up and took a seat at her table to gather my wits for the day. Relaxing, breathing in and out, pondering. Often times this was accompanied by a cup of coffe. Hot, black, and very sttong. The coffee was my ally in helping me to breath and be mindful. Before starting the adventure I quit drinking coffee. I found it made me jittery and wired, which are two things one shouldn’t be on a motorcycle. It was hard, I love coffee, but I have always found enjoyment in tea as well. I think it is the sitting over a hot mug and breathing in the smell and warmth, as much as it is the beverage in the mug.
My tea has always been reserved for relaxing. I take great pride in my tea box, which is home to my mortar and pessel as well as my assortment of teas and filters. I had to leave it behind when taking off on the adventure but I did take some tea from it. Tea has always been the thing along side coffee. The just-in-case-this-doesn’t-work, or the come down-relaxer. I would take my tea box out for headaches, evening pick-me-ups, days of sadness, bad breath, and other such ailments. My roommate came to call it my ‘tea ritual’ and it was like that, a ritual. A special reminder to breath.
The reason I even bring this up, is that this morning I had my morning tea ritual. I fetched the small amount of tea from my commitments and loaded up my filter. I boiled some clean water on my popcan stove before making my breakfast, and I had a cup of tea.
It warmed my insides on this chilly morning in the Washington mountains. It woke me from my grogginess. It rid me of an on-the-rise head ache. And it reminded me to breath and be mindful.
Though drinking tea is not exactly the same as walking.. well actually, it sort of is. It is the act of doing something to better oneself while also being mindful. It is the comfort derived from doing activities that calm oneself and then the breathing that accompanies it.
I don’t have a tripomter on Little Wing, nor any form of gas gauge, so I have no way of knowing when to fill up other than my own memory. To save the strain of having to recall numbers I started writing the mileage on my windshield with dry erase marker. Below this I will also write the directions to my next destination. Right now my destination is simple, Seattle, so right now I have written the word BREATH. It is a reminder what this is all about. This transient living that I am doing right now.
I’m not sure what the meaning is behind it. I’m not sure why I feel the need for an adventure or why I wanted to do it on the back of Little Wing, all I know is that it is like the walking, or the tea ritual. It is meant to be done while mindful. I’m living right now, I’m not just enduring life. I’m drinking tea and breathing.