I am becoming more solution-oriented as each week passes during this attempted trek.
These are concepts upon which I relied less and less during the 16.5 months I spent at my former "teaching" job in Chengdu. The SOLUTIONS I came up with were brushed away like irritating mosquitoes. And at that job, I didn't need to think at all, so PROBLEM-SOLVING went the way of the mosquitoes, CRITICAL-THINKING SKILLS were not encouraged (this possibly rampant throughout the entire country, as observed in driving skills construction, overall planning, and administration), and CREATIVE THINKING... well, I'm pretty sure that was added to the list of an offense punishable by death or torture back in the 50s.
What I did learn during my year at that so-called school (hahahahaha), was to focus on problems. For that's all I encountered, and I watched in terror, sitting atop the highest drop of the roller coaster that had become my emotional life, screaming downward at light-speed into an abyss of stress and anxiety. The faster and more often the falls came, the more my emotional resilience was beaten down as well, which is why I decided to take a sabbatical and get all my "healths" back in order: mental, emotional, physical, spiritual. For although I mentally and emotionally avoided the crash (barely!) at the bottom of that derailed coaster, my health did not survive the Crash of '19.
Moving beyond that dramatic digression, and one more Complaint About Big Red Brother, I'm becoming very solution-oriented during my trek. The resulting feeling is empowerment; something else that was stripped away during the last 17 months in China, where managing quotidian tasks was a frustration, and empowerment is not something doled out to the bulk of citizenry here.
"There can be only one!"
When I am able to solve even the smallest problem, I experience a "Beam me up, Scotty!" warm spotlight of success shining from within that straightens my shoulders and makes me feel a couple of degrees more capable than I did a few weeks ago.
My two biggest problems are actually that: my pack is too heavy for my fitness level at present. Bluntly put: both my pack and my body are overweight! Happily, my pack is fatter! I left Dali with a pack weighing 47 frickin' pounds, that is TEN POUNDS over my max.
Thou shalt not carry a backpack weighing greater than 30% of one's body weight.
My pack is 21% overweight, and my body is 18% overweight. I could downgrade my 2-person tent to 1-person tent, but it's already ultralight at 4.5 lbs, and I would only save one pound. The same with my sleeping bag. It's ultralight down and rated to the arctic temps for alpine elevations-- cheaper, less warm bags actually weigh more! The bulk of my pack weight originates in consumables such as food and fuel. Since I'm not trekking for weeks at a times (yet!) as I originally planned, it makes sense to decrease both. Further, with each additional day of hiking completed my body will continue to release its own excess. Consequently, what I have learned thus far is to offload most of my consumables, keeping only 2 days worth. Everything fits in the pack well enough now, but I still have to work on keeping the weight to a manageable 35-37 lbs. max!
Also, I've been feeling exceptionally run-down and low energy-- symptoms that had left me once I left Chengdu. But I've also been living on cortisol, caffeine, and wine, since the last few weeks have been anything but the stress-free vacation of which I had dreamed for months! The past few days (or longer, perhaps since I first reached Dali; but I have denied it with more coffee), I just feel so friggin' tired! I gave in, and decided to listen to my body. Two days ago, I received an amazing massage and cupping treatment; however, the cupping left me quite sore directly on the spots where my backpack straps will place weight. Ugh!
I decided to stay in Xingyu Village a few more days. It's a pleasant place and the guesthouse is beautiful and inexpensive. Of course, next door is a F***ing construction site. What did I do to earn this karma? Or is it because China is still developing and the building and growth plague has spread to all small corners. Damnit, I am sick of hearing construction vehicles rumble and the crash and screech of "necessary growth". Part of me regrets not flying immediately back to Chengdu and starting my trek from the known point of Dartsendo. But I wanted to experience a different area in China, and so I have. What's the point in regret? What I can do is spend my next 3 nights starting Tuesday --for which I have already paid-- in Lijiang, get the hell of out of that Tourist Trap (I visited previously last spring), and move farther north. I will then be in temperatures for which I had planned and packed, and hopefully feel a bit more relaxed. The constant moving of locales and hotels causes more stress and fatigue, I have discovered.
In the meantime, I am applying for long term house-sits in Oceania and Europe, and simply hoping that the right one will come along. I want an engagement that lasts at minimum two months, preferably three, and one that is not in the snowy spheres of chilly Europe.
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