Cheese, future husbands, and finding the meaning of life.
Why am I hiking the AT?
This question is hard for me to answer. My first reaction would be to answer with a joke response.. Like to find a husband or to be able to eat a block of cheese a day. I suppose this is a challenging and very self-reflective thing for everyone, but I think it’s for me to admit my real reasons because to me they feel self indulgent and silly. But slowly I’m getting over that. If I were accepting a full time job right now I wouldn’t feel the need to justify or explain it. I’d simply tell my mother it’s good experience and will look good on my resume and that would be that.
My next response if you were to probe more would be: Carpe that fucking Diem. I have two working legs, a couple of thousand dollars saved up, some backpacking experience, and an addiction to a good challenge. Why shouldn’t I hike the AT??? My father died shortly after his 40th birthday after learning a year before he had a terminal brain tumor. Life is short. It’s really short, and I don’t ever want to look back and have regrets that I didn’t do something while I could. I don’t want to assume that I’ll have the good health, life freedom or ambition to do this later. I also don’t think it’s safe to assume that the trail will exist or be the same in twenty or thirty years. This carpe diem/life is short reasoning is huge for me, but I can’t honestly say it’s everything, and I know it’s not enough to carry me through all 2,190 miles.
There’s something deeper there, and it’s hard for me to put my finger on. It feels like hiking the trail is an essential part of becoming who I’m supposed to be. I simply need to do it. I know that strength and fearlessness are important elements here. I suppose I want to find courage of my convictions. I want to be the biggest, best person I can be. And right now, I need to be a bit selfish about that. I need to prove to myself that I can set a very ambitious goal and follow through on it. That goal needs to be absolutely all my own. I need these 6 months and 2,000 miles to grow and think and meet new people and see new places.
What about the rain, mud, mice, and miles though?
I know this won’t be easy. I know there will be down days. Maybe the majority of them will be. This is part of the reason thru-hiking the AT is my ambition though. I want to be uncomfortable, dirty, wet, blistered. There’s something important in stripping yourself and your possessions down so that you can realize what truly matters to you. Perseverance is a simultaneously miserable and beautiful thing.
I don’t assume that I’ll finish the trail. But I want to give it a good frickin’ try. If I quit I know I’ll be disappointed and embarrassed. It’s not in my nature to give things up lightheartedly. If I quit, I know it will be for good reason, and the experience will teach me things no matter what. Maybe I’ll meet my future husband and we’ll go off to cheese making school. Who knows, but I’m going to give the trail the old college try!
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