I was on a mission today, to find an outdoor space near home. I need space to visit on a weekly basis and write while I'm there as part my class. I decided I'd search for a good spot in Frick Park.
Wow. I can't believe I have not spent more time in Frick Park. I live about 5 minutes away from the largest park in Pittsburgh at 561 acres. There are way more trails than I originally expected and, as I accidentally discovered, they extend well into multiple townships. I first walked down the Biddle trail until it met the Tranquil trail. I sat on a bench nearby for about 40 minutes just reading and people watching. There was a nice little stream behind me and it wasn't too hot out. I managed to get some writing done too; I have the beginnings of a good personal essay. Lots of people passed by with dogs and I've got a few mosquito bites as a result of sitting so close to water PLUS walking at dusk. I need some bug spray. It's just been so long since I've hiked. It felt both strange and increasingly familiar at once.
I've been experiencing a lot of acute anxiety episodes lately. Panic attacks, really. They rarely happen as a result of a specific trigger, but today when I had to leave to find a spot outdoors, I found my heart quicken and my breath become labored. I think some of my anxiety is related to trying new things, or doing things alone. I also don't spend a lot of time outdoors anymore. I'd like to consider saying this is because I am busy, but really the reasons are more layered than that. It's about desire too. I spent a lot of time reflecting on when exactly I lost my desire to spend time outdoors. I still camp with my family, but I rarely seek out my own outdoor experiences. I used to hike, camp, canoe, kayak, even bicycle on occasion, despite the fact that I don't own a bike. When did I become so indoorsy?
I think the answer might lie partially in my affinity for all things techy. This didn't develop until I was in college, when I got my own laptop and had the internet for the first time. In the days when Napster first came out. After that, it seems that more and more of my life was dependent on technology and less and less of my life was oriented toward the great outdoors.
Yet, I still consider myself an outdoorsy person. And today I reminded myself of that. After I finished writing, I walked down the Tranquil trail and there were less people around. I found some more secluded spots for writing and observing. My favorite spot I found was on a rock ledge up a steep embankment off the trail. I decided to see if I could get up there myself, despite my fear of heights (and falling to my death, alone in the woods). I made it, just like others before me, some of who are apparently smokers as evidenced by the cigarette butts I found on the ledge. Just a few though and they didn't ruin the heady experience I felt once I reached the top on my own. The picture is me dangling my feet off the rock's edge looking into the area below. Yeah, I was nervous. Scared of falling. But climbing up there made me feel accomplished. I think I may have found a little place that can my outdoor home for the coming weeks.