It’s been a while since I last posted and I am sorry about that. The truth is I write this blog as a simple vent of thoughts and emotions rather than a constant stream of Facebook updates and rants. This gives me an outlet without the sometimes negative or frustrating comments Facebook allows.
Onwards and upwards or so they say. So this summer was supposed to have been spent on the Appalachian trail. It didn’t happen. Like most things in life, my wife had her own plans such as keeping her authoring business going that the idea of dropping out for 6 months was viewed as professional suicide. In a way it was, but with one compromise comes another, we had to get off the trail, with the idea to “section hike” the AT instead of through hike it. Um yeah, Like most of my dreams for the past 17 years, her priorities came first, and mine were pushed to the sidelines. Am I bitter, yeah I am, but I will get over it as i usually do though I am increasingly becoming resentful as time progresses, something will have to give eventually. In any case, responsibility called in the name of a storage unit that was costing us $65mo that needed to be sorted and sold. I am also getting to spend some decent time with my parents as well. While the time off the trail is being spent productively I am feeling my gut getting bigger, my muscles shrinking, and my resting heart rate increasing. Minutes are being taken from my life daily. The depression of being off trail and yet another failure to add to my list of life failures is weighing heavily. I cannot even enjoy the woods much as it’s all or nothing for me, I refuse to wear my Fitbit as the idea of walking less than 30,000 steps in a day is an utter failure. I think daily that I should find another athletic pursuit, but unlike long distance hiking, no other activity gives me what motivates me the most, a goal, just within reach but far enough to cause pain and requires work…work that must be done to reach that goal. Running miles does not do it, cycling distance does not do it nor do the many personal fitness goals that motivate people. Something else does it for me.
Hiking, specifically long-distance hiking provides me the ability to never have to see the same old trail again, to leave behind the things that are unpleasant, but also appreciate the things I may never see again. I can descend long grade and feel a sense of joy that I won’t have to climb that hill on the way back even though I know I will have to climb another further ahead, which upon summiting will provide a sense of accomplishment and relief. I can commiserate with others who are my equals on the trail about the bugs, the heat, the blisters, the mud and rocks. We are all walking the walk, and sleeping in the same forest. After every mile is one less mile behind. The food no matter how inexpensive, bland or boring is valued more for it’s protein and calories than it’s monitary value. 2000 calories are more valuable than a $20 bill and far tastier. Rationing your warm drinking water and knowing that the next water source is a few miles ahead, which upon reaching, is a cold stream far better than any beer or cold soda. Water is life, and cold water is ambrosia. Real food like burgers and ice cream can be eaten with abandon, beer guzzled without guilt. Calories are necessary, and are not a liability. Life is good, life is simple and the pain only intensifies the pleasure….it is an addiction of the best variety. I am an addict.
Life becomes simple on the trail, and for me, simplicity is at the core of my life philosophy. If it’s not simple, there is something flawed, something that should be changed or eliminated. We only need to eat to survive, we need shelter and something to keep our minds occupied. The important things in life are first and foremost our health, for without it we will find simplicity difficult to attain. Family and friends come second, for family will always be there for you and once gone will never be back. They are part of who you are, and memories are only as good as your mind (see #1). Then there is educational exploration. Not college education, though this does play a part but an active curiosity and exploration into areas set to broaden one’s intellectual horizons. This area plays into health as well as it keeps a person’s mind sharp and can develop friends by cultivating relationships based on mutual interests and knowledge, knowledge garnered by exploration into new and interesting fields. Finally, there is the matter of faith, while some may hold this higher than others it is necessary for one to believe and hold the idea of being lesser than the whole, to be a servent to a greater force and to serve humbly to a greater philosophy of life. To ponder the universe and come to terms of ones own being is necessary and a foundation to build and live a healthy life. Health, Family/Friends, Education and Faith, are the core areas I feel are necessary for me to live a good life.
So for me being off the trail has sort of violated and hurt my core values of simplicity and health. I am hoping that in time I can get back to them but in the meantime, I’m spending the time educating myself by reading more Teddy Roosevelt, Ben Franklin, Marcus Aurelius and finally spending far too much time learning a new, yet boring skill, computer coding, and programming. In the end, I will at least have something that will pay my way and give me a method to hike when I choose. Right now though I need to get through this depression and hopefully find some glimmer of hope for the future. While not something that is overshadowing my daily activities or personality, it does weigh me down on a daily basis and prevents me from living my life to the fullest. In time I will find peace and simplicity if it is alone, walking my own trail with no one to answer to but myself. As an addict, life is hard, but unlike a physical drug, my drug is at my core and necessary for my health and happiness.