Well guys, the trigger has been pulled. Last night was Day Zero: I gathered with dozens of friends for a send-off party at a rented theater, lovingly dubbed the Rogue Priest Deployment Party. There I publicly renewed my dedication to the heroic deity Lugh and the life I seek to lead in emulation of the ancient heroes.
After toasts, hugs and a lot of pangs (nostalgia, wist, worry, hope), I slipped a ring on my finger as a symbol of that dedication – and disappeared into thin air.
If all went according to plan, I biked nearly three hours in the dark to get outside of the Twin Cities, reached a secluded glen where I made my camp for the night, and maybe even caught a few hours’ sleep despite the overwhelming excitement of what I’m doing.
I say if all went according to plan because this blog post was written two days in advance. As you read this Thursday morning, I’m packing up my camp, chewing on some nuts and raisins, and loading my bike into my car which I cleverly parked nearby days before.
And I’m going to Milwaukee.
Why did I start off my trip with a bike ride and sleeping under the stars? In some ways, it’s a symbolic act. It’ll be up to nine months before I start the actual hike to Brazil, but I wanted Day Zero to start out the way I envision the actual trip to be: powered by my own muscles.
On another level it’s a very visceral reminder of what I’m doing. It’s a preview of what life will be like on the road. Eventually I’ll be hiking or biking each day and camping out or relying on strangers each night. In Walk Like a God I talk about how every adventure contains a period so hard, so bleak, so hopeless that you want to run home screaming and quit. My adventure will have those periods, I know. By starting the very first step with something difficult as hell – even if it is symbolic – I feel like I’m preparing myself that much more for the hardest times ahead.
So now it’s Day One. The glamour and love and cheering of the Deployment Party is over, and it’s just me and the mosquitoes. And a whole lot of quiet time to myself.
As I load up my car to continue to Milwaukee, will I regret what I’ve done?