I use some variation of the word “catharsis” in a lot of my articles. I think it’s something a lot of veterans pursue—I think it’s something a lot of people across the board pursue. There is a deep-seated unrest scraping away at the soul of every human being and my experiences in the military, while as a whole were very positive and built me up in ways I could not have imagined, rubbed me a bit raw in some places, further exacerbating that unrest.

There are a number of things I’ve done to find catharsis in an effort to steady that unrest, to give it a moment’s peace. Getting a dog was one of the best things I could have done, and finally finding a healthy (though still imperfect) relationship was another. Yet another was realizing that confronting my own demons and pursuing self-knowledge has been a philosophy of  great warriors since the beginning of time, and that pretending that I was not an emotional human being just like everyone else was just a way of hiding from my problems (don’t confuse that with crying about things all the time).

But sometimes it takes something simpler. Sometimes simply venturing out into nature is as cathartic as you can get, as you get in touch with that primal appreciation for all that is natural and basic in the world. However, unless you’re an outdoors guru who has no problem with jumping out into the woods for a day or two, it usually takes some amount of planning around work and family, preparations and packing. That’s fine, but it helps to have choices as life may not always allow for an impromptu hiking trip.

The next option is something I’ve found myself doing quite a bit this week—a road trip across the American countryside.