Apr 17, 2007

Thoughts outside the bubble

by Marcelo Quarantotto, Life! Editor
Laying my head on a bed of stars completes my existence. It was especially wonderful after completing hikes that were beyond the comfort of my body.

I overestimated my physical condition to an unhealthy degree. As recent as two years ago, I remember getting lost in the woods and end up having to hike for over eight hours and barely feeling the burn.

A few months ago, my friend Denny who decided to fly down to Lynchburg for his spring break ran the idea past me about a multiple-day backpacking excursion. I was there. A couple of weeks prior to said hiking, he wrote me a message that was in accord to how I was feeling. “I just hope my mental readiness makes up for my physical wantonness.”

It did for him, but not for me.

This discovery was all too apparent as crippling fatigue encompassed my body after the first few miles and on every uphill climb henceforth. I now have to admit it, as a person who formerly ran over 10 hours a week — I am out of shape.

While my self-esteem wasn’t too happy with this new shape, the color returned to my cheeks once we arrived at our campsite on top of Apple Orchard Falls. So, Denny and I built a shelter out of the surrounding leaves and trees.

Being back in classes and fighting against the stream that is my work-school-work-and-try-to-find-time-with-my-wife-and-friends schedule only serves to remind me how tense this all makes me, how I become like a compressed sponge that cannot hold any water.

I am not able to hold anything more than what is required of me after being trapped in this regimen comprised mostly of doing things that I’d rather be distanced from.

I have not been forced into an all-work-no-play schedule, but when the majority of what I do for a decent stretch of time consists of things that are expected of me and commanded from me, doing productive but leisurely things of my own inspiration seems pointless — I need to unwind.

While a day or evening off with friends is a good remedy, it only serves as a suppressant. When I can spend a few days away from my self-imposed cubicle and wasteful activities, the benefits are tenfold. I noticed this when Denny, myself and my wife were united with other friends on the second day of hiking at the campsite on top of Devil’s Marbleyard.

Even though the time we all spend together is always great, we all seemed to be slightly on edge. Conflicting ideas between this and that, the way food should be cooked and in what order sent people in seemingly contradictory stances.

My wife questioning me about things that really weren’t a big deal at all also engaged me in an annoyed demeanor that was undue and unnecessary.

After a few hours, however, our entire group began moving as one. Prior discrepancies were laid aside and/or forgotten as we cooperated to make fire, food and even a pantry to organize our supplies.

We all walked down to the edge of the mountaintop to take simultaneous shots of the captivating sunset that proceeded to dip below the multi-layered ridgeline.

No one was uptight. Distressful thoughts and worries were dispelled into the starry sky above the hued mountains. We sweated, talked and laughed them out.

The trip to the bottom of the mountain on the following morning was correspondingly jovial. Our amble down was refreshing in comparison to the painful hiking I had done the couple of days before.

We all made efforts to stay together as much as we could and even took an unneeded break at a brook that spewed out some of the most refreshing water I have consumed in a long time. Seriously, I dumped out the Kroger spring water I had in my Nalgene bottle to slake my thirst with the natural beverage.

Needless to say, I had a hard time adjusting to eating at a restaurant that afternoon. We walked there and back, though.

So as I sit at my desk and stare ahead at the short span of time left between now and the end of my Liberty career, I’m trying to plan more moments that will once again place me in reality.

One such evening (here comes the plug) is April 26. At 7 p.m., to be more exact, at Grace Church on Timberlake. Derek Webb, who instigated independent thoughts when he played “New Law” and “Lover Part 2” in convocation last February and questioned Christian subculture norms on stage at last year’s Junior/Senior Banquet will again be performing in the area.

Promoting his new album “The Ringing Bell,” Derek will step on stage with a full band — a rare occasion for the artist who normally plays solo or with his über-talented wife Sandra McCraken.
So, if you have seen him before, then you need no prodding in the right direction. If you haven’t, however, please do yourself a favor—take a short drive, walk, bike or skateboard ride down to the Drowsy Poet at Candler’s Station to purchase a ticket for $12.

Contact Marcelo Quarantotto at mquarantotto@liberty.edu.
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