Modern Pilgrims or The Visions of Young Anxious People

Written by Crane

Paying attention to change in your self can sometimes feel like walking through a spider web that has been stitched across a forest trail. You feel it without seeing it, sticking to your face, temporarily muddling your pleasant hike through the woods as you attempt to pull the tacky nuisance from your face. But if you’re going to walk through the woods you’re going to walk through some webs. The trick is in the way you tilt your head, to unfocus your eyes and let the rays of sun highlight the webs for you. Take your time and you will begin to focus on the system of flossy nets illuminated about you, tenuous and intricate, like threads of diamonds cutting through the forest as far as you can see. You will still get caught up in one from time to time, but not without seeing the beauty that unfolds beyond it.

For a while there was a sense of change in my life that made me feel more anxious than empowered. It felt like a lot was happening. I had moved to a new city, taken a new job and left the company of some dear friends, hoping that I would make more. All of this change hadn’t left me with much of a vision as to which way the trajectory of my life would head. More so, there was just the expectation of a vision. An expectation that I was to know better how I am supposed to be moving through the life I have been given. But vision does not always come in the form of one great moment. There are some whose radical openness may leave them more susceptible to the powers that be, gifting them ability to see more than just the physical space around them. Here is the point that I’m trying to make, however: there are visions and there is envisioning. The first, a true gift from the world, something we will not all receive and should not passively anticipate. The latter, an active pursuit demanding both creativity and will. An instrument of light we must use to both illuminate and forge a more precious way forward. 

In changing times, distractions and doubt are a dime-a-dozen for the modern pilgrim who is out to envision a more meaningful existence. The way in which we pass our time is so often curated by a select number of inherited actions, individually pulled from a greater pool of veiled possibilities. The three of us had been planning this expedition for a year and a half, but when it came down to making the decision of whether or not to commit I tensed up.  I must have asked myself a hundred times whether or not I thought running around the world’s largest lake made any sense at all. Like, what? Why take on more change? I wasn’t sure I should be leaving the new ways I had started. Here is another thing I have slowly learned in this time of my life though: there is untold beauty in simplicity. And this run became a sensuous symbol to simplify my life, a meditation to break me from the anxiety of the built-up expectations. The Catholic writer Evelyn Underhill wrote that so much of life is spent “constantly recapturing the vagrant attention.” Sometimes we succeed, other times we don’t. When we don’t, the arc of our lives tends to dip into the pool of distractions that waits for us when our guard is down. When we succeed, even if it’s fleeting, we start to see the grandeur of ocean that rolls beyond those pools. We may even stop sitting on the beach and begin to wade past its shores.  

We manifest our lives through the power of envisioning and in doing so transform imagination into action. And when paired with the act of simplification, our vision becomes clearer and clearer. We can begin to  empower ourselves to move through space with a new fluidity, no longer letting the splendor of this life evade us but rather, engulf us. Before we began this running pilgrimage of ours we were asked whether or not we hoped our trip would inspire other 1,400 mile ultraruns. The answer was no. We only hope that it may inspire others to envision a clearer path towards their own life of love.


Eyes to the sky, feet on the ground,