Cleaning is my Xanax

I am five days from pulling the great green van away from the house and heading to massive nature to meet the adventure.

In the meantime I’ve been cleaning. And I mean DEEP CLEANING! The kitchen cupboards, the pantry, the refrigerator. Oh, I know I should be preparing for the trip, checking the engine, the electrical connections, filling the water tank for the sink.

But no. I’m cleaning.

It is my Xanax. It calms me in the face of trembling fear.

So, last night I pulled out the big guns – the toothbrush and hot soapy water and got to work on the grit and grease underneath the front chair of Van Go like a dental hygienist scrapes plaque from teeth. As the water turned deep brown with every wipe of the microfiber rag, I felt serotonin flood my system and relaxation set in.

Because, the truth is, this trip is working me over, and I haven’t even gotten to the START line, which is Monday, July 11th.

Flurries of questions crowd my brain at regular moments throughout every day, going something like this:

“Why am I going on this trip? I mean, isn’t it silly? What are you trying to prove, Diane? Are you trying to prove something? Because you know, you don’t have to. You could just stay home and have a pleasant easy summer. On the other hand, once you’re on the road it will ALL be fine, and you will love the parks. You will meet awesome people, see amazing sites, have time to be. Remember, even though you feel alone in this, you aren’t alone. Ever.”

The other channel in my brain wakes me up in the morning with a barrage of things to “remember”:

“Find the bunji cords, get the sticky Velcro, make sure you get the shade issue handled before you go. Should I keep the mechanic appointment? Don’t forget to buy a new cooler. Oh, you have to sew the curtains. Food, think nuts, veggies, ghee, that will go in the cooler.”

It’s endless.

As I clean the van, bringing out the shine of the original yellow paint underneath the front seat, I wonder about rain and cold, and what I’ll do in the middle of the night when I have to pee with “weather” out there. I wonder about the bears and bear spray, and how it works.

When I pause in the midst of all of the logistical preparations, and the burst of doubts, and take a deep breath and remember why I’m going, I feel the flood of excitement. I can’t wait to stand in the great Cathedrals of our country – the National parks – and have my jaw gape open in awe at the beauty created by nature over millions of years, with no help from any human.

When I remember this I am certain I go to have space and time to sit with my bigger questions in life, like “Who am I? What IS this life really about? Why do we suffer? What brings deep joy? What is love? Really? Why do we get caught in fear like a mouse snapped up in a trap? Where does fear come from? And why is it as powerful as a tidal wave knocking down sand castles?”

Once I’m sitting behind the big steering wheel in the van, I will be in the river and I will swim with myself as the only one who can save me with my tools - my breath, my yoga mat, my altar, a good sense of humor, a good book and some art supplies. I am ready to put down the mantle of fear.

I am going to gather up trust and faith in my basket. I am going to embrace the mystery about how it will all work out, where I will go, what I will do, who I will be at the end of this journey. I go open to being a tumble weed on the road, ready to embrace the mystery where I will go, how it will all work out and who I will be at the end of this journey. I go to gather up trust and faith in my vessel.