Steeping / What Are We Even Doing, Anyways??

Open Mic is the series on BLISTER where we invite various people in the outdoor industry to say what they have to say, and share whatever it is they feel like sharing at this particular point in time.

Today, we hear from Angel Collinson

About Angel Collinson 

As Angel puts it, she is currently sailing through a metamorphosis, an explorer of self and the planet, a former professional skier, singer of songs and lover of this planet.

Angel Collinson - Steeping

With a ‘stumble to faceplant to scorpion to front flip’ onto my tush … I have moved off of Sea Bear and landed in Boulder, Colorado. I didn’t totally stick the landing (I’ve been joking that this is my ‘hot mess girl summer’), but here I am. My proverbial skis are on my feet, and I’m cruising back along in ‘normal life’ — foggy, snow-caked goggles and all.

But ‘normal life’ feels weird after boat life. Very weird. And definitely not normal. I sort of feel like a lizard that got plucked from the wild and put into a very nice, large, luxurious terrarium. All my needs are provided for. My body is comfortable, my environment can be temperature regulated all the time if I want. I’m having a love affair with my large bed that is never rolly. I live 2 minutes away from the grocery store. I can drive and get virtually anything I need within 10 minutes. Also: hot showers! Actually just having a shower, period! A washing machine! Everything smells great! No mold! Things rarely break! Pretty much all of my gripes and most of the challenges from living on a sailboat are now taken care of. Pretty great terrarium, right?

Except … except there is this feeling I can’t shake. Continuing with the lizard in a terrarium metaphor, it feels like I can’t forget the pure essence of nature, of my wild home. The whisper of its distant memory is an imprint that lingers. It creates this feeling that the outside world — with cars and fast food restaurants and tanning beds and gas stations and fitness gyms — seems a little artificial, and that I’m missing something.

I can’t quite seem to recall what it is I’m missing or no longer have — it’s not just ‘nature,’ and it feels essential.

It also feels like society and people are moving along at warp speed and I’m struggling to keep up with everyone moving so fast. I can’t seem to stay on top of my texts, emails, or DM’s, and what I accomplish every day feels half of what it used to be. I feel a little overwhelmed by society, and I also feel restless.

Maybe you’ve had this feeling after an extended stint abroad, or a 20-day trip down the Grand Canyon getting swallowed in its red and timeless walls, or a plant medicine ceremony, or a 2-week hut trip without any wifi or cell service … or any trip that has genuinely changed you. Upon return, our lives at home, and our lives online, can feel both easy and strangely difficult. Or maybe you’ve experienced this feeling after a life-changing incident — be it an amazing achievement followed by the ‘Now What’, or a grief-stricken, challenging incident (that’s also often followed by the ’Now What’). 

Angel Collinson - Steeping - Open Mic for BLISTER
Angel Collinson, integrating

I personally believe that the ‘Now What’, while it may feel slippery, blurry, and ungraspable, could / should be: making space for integration.

In my opinion, integration is where the deeply juicy transformational sauce is. Having an experience where we are changed or learn something important … it’s amazing! But figuring out exactly HOW we were changed and WHAT we do with it moving forward — that’s where it gets real interesting. It’s easy to rush this part, because there isn’t a lot of DOing, so it doesn’t feel necessarily ‘productive’.

I think about it like letting tea steep. If the teabag is the wisdom gained and you are the water, it takes time for the tea to do its thing. You don’t just huck the teabag in the hot water and drink it immediately. You give it some time to infuse. Then it’s ready.

The point of why we go on expeditions, voyages, pilgrimages, trips — it’s both for the in-the-moment-experience, as well as for the ways we are impacted long afterward. It’s an ancient human practice.

From my experience, the more intentionality and space I give myself after a big experience, the better what I’ve learned steeps into my being. “Space” here can look like a number of things: less technology, fewer social gatherings, more rest or time in nature, etc.

To me, there are two curious things about integration: one is that it requires a liminal space, a gestation period, if you will. The second thing is that at the beginning, it doesn’t do me any good to use my mind to analyze whatever I’ve learned or how I’ve been changed — it’s already inside of me. It’s in my body, it’s in my being. It’s in a deeper part of me than my mind can access. Like a seed taking root, the gestation period lets it grow into something that is so big and obvious that my mind finally understands. But if I try to ‘figure out my experience’ with my mind, it’s like digging up a seed from the soil to see how it’s doing — it’s not productive. 

Angel Collinson - Steeping - Open Mic for BLISTER

Recently, someone asked me, “What is your biggest takeaway from your time on the sailboat?” I thought about it. Then I said “I don’t know, yet. I’m still in the process of understanding it.” We shared a moment of appreciation for that answer: “I don’t know, yet.” It’s a powerful place to let ourselves exist in.

What I DO know is that ‘integration’ is what will help me understand whatever it is I connected to in the last chapter of my life that feels like is missing now. I have subtle inklings, but like an archaeologist that is beginning to uncover a fossil, I don’t have all the info yet.

I also know that part of what I miss is the simplicity and immediacy of life on the sailboat, and that I want to keep as much of the simplicity as I can amidst this modern, rushing world.

Because, to be honest, upon reentry, the ‘grind’ feels a little bit insane. Like, what are we even doing? Are we moving forward? Are we accomplishing anything in society? Are we getting any closer to solving the big problems that plague us and threaten the existence of humanity itself? Or are we just partaking in a relentless playing of a weird game where the to-do lists never end? It feels at times like a rat race, a hamster wheel, completely centered around making money so we can simply live, so we can make more money to keep living… It’s a never-ending cycle that feels inescapable and maddening after living away from it for a while.  

In contrast, the stoic, steady procession of nature, the seasons, and the slow turning of the shadows from the trees as the day progresses are never-ending cycles that make more sense to me right now than anything else. I am spending a lot of time outside just BE-ing, and it feels indescribably good. It feels like a necessary nutrient, a sweet nectar that all parts of me are lapping up.

So I can’t help but wonder: Is what I am currently feeling — this heightened sensitivity to the madness of civilization — is this actually what we all feel, deep down, as animal beings? We’ve just become accustomed to the rush and the concrete jungle? Do we all miss living a little closer to the healing balm of wild nature? Would we all be way less stressed or anxious or depressed if we had this nutrient of the wild world more in our lives? 

I know that if you’re reading this, you are probably a lover of the outdoors, and the answer is a resounding, “Yeah, duh.” But think of how many people don’t have access to this. Think of how many people have grown up in cities and maybe have NEVER experienced it.

My time outside (a lot of laying on warm flat river rocks) has been crucial for my landing here. My well-being. My becoming. My integration process. I know whatever I’m here to do with my life, or here to bring into the world, is on its way and will be enriched by the space I’m taking now. It feels important. I am so grateful to be able to take this time.

So my question to you is this:

If you could step away from the grind, just for a bit, what would you do?

Is the animal part of you calling for something? And / or, is there something you need permission to take space to integrate?

There. I just gave you a permission slip.

Go do you.

Sending lots of love,


Steeping / What Are We Even Doing, Anyways??, BLISTER
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3 comments on “Steeping / What Are We Even Doing, Anyways??”

  1. I follow you on Instagram and Wow. It is the first time I came across your Open Mic and it is exactly what I needed to read at this exact moment in my life. It is hard to find friends or even family that could understand me. The love for the outdoors is unappreciated by us humans at times. I wish all I could do is travel and experience all the amazing things earth has to offer! Like a Bird. Fly miles and miles away with no destination.

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