A Heart of Gold & A Gypsy Soul
“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”-J.R.R. Tolkien
How can I tell you about adventure, other than it lies stuck between dusty pages in dark places, other than it lives in theaters with sticky sweet floors? To some it is found on a path in the woods. Far removed from modern convenience, hidden from the eye. How can I describe to you solitude when the only places we find it are often in crowded rooms, full of nameless faces? I found it once on the top of a mountain, despite being with others. I found it in the wind and the roar of the air pressing through hollows long forgotten. How can I sum up the desperation for success when it is only found through a pay raise, broken knuckles, or fingers flying over a keyboard tucked behind the anonymity of an office job praying for a word of acknowledgement? What it is not comes easily to those who do not understand an adventure. And how can I tell you why I wish to escape the rat race and slip into the woods, like a shadow, like a thought that barely passes through your mind? It’s nearly like trying to describe the color blue to a blind man.
I long for the the day when security is in the sound of a crackling fire as the sun descends behind the trees, fading from fire to burnt coals, to nothingness. It is a place to lay my head, even if that place is different than yesterday. Home is found on my back placed into baggies, tucked into pockets, folded into tiny pieces, jammed and squashed into stuff sacks. My kitchen becomes a picnic table, a log, an old shelter floor. Transportation is reduced to my own two feet and what I can muster between my ears to keep my feet shuffling, one step in front of the other, until I reach that place – I will know it when I get there. Destination – north.
We all know about success. But what does success feel like when you have put yourself, mind, body, heart, and soul into it? I can bet most have never felt that. I’m planning on feeling that. I could tell you about failure. Failing to remember my never-ending to do list, failing to keep up with the hustle and the bustle, failing to conform to what society tells us. Or I could tell you that failure means having to give up a dream, having to turn around from a once in a lifetime opportunity and take a bus home. I could tell you that failure is putting yourself out there and being held to high standards of making it under your own willpower. Would you crumble? Would you back away? Would you tuck that dream into your pillow and only rest on it before you settle into sleep to get up and sit in traffic tomorrow morning, to do the same old, same old? I wouldn’t. I’m not, because sometimes when something pulls so hard at your bones and your spirit you must go. And go I will.
I can describe fear. Of never starting something, of starting something and never finishing. We all know these. But soon I will be able to tell you that I also know the fear of looking a bear in the eyes, of standing on a cliff wind blowing so hard it is threatening to blow you away, fear that one small injury may lead to a larger one may lead to me never getting to see those places I’ve dreamed of so realistically I can see them and smell them and taste them. I can tell you the fear I feel when I know I have to leave my family behind to cheer for me from hundreds and thousands of miles away. Do you feel it yet? I could also tell you about the fear that I have of not being brave and strong. Of breaking down and of being weak of mind because distance can do that to a person.
I could tell you about embracing your inner warrior, but are you too afraid of being uncomfortable? I will deal with snow, so pure and cold I shiver all the way down into my very bones. There will be rain that lasts for days and soaks everything I own, without even a sock spared. There will be drought and uncertainty. I will push past the thirst until a river can quench my soul and restore me. There will be alliances and friendships rivaling all others that came before them and there will come a day when the crushing feeling of knowing that not all of us can and will make it to the finish will weigh heavily on my heart. There will be bonds that stretch across cities and towns and valleys, unshakable. There will be laughter, tears, joy, and pain and sometimes they will all mesh together until their is just one feeling, beyond explanation. There will be monotony, days that stretch into one another and time is forgotten but there will also be a feeling that time is fleeting, that I have missed something vital, that I should have walked slower, should have breathed deeper, that the end of the road is soon to come even though it felt as though yesterday I was shouldering my pack weight for the very first time, and surely we have not already reached our destination? There will be obstacles and trials, but there will also be solutions. And at the end of them all will stand a single mountain in Maine that marks the end of the journey, the parting of ways, the return to the places we all came from and the places we are doomed to wander again until that familiar tickle comes back and we are thinking to ourselves “What if…what if…what if?”
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Well written! I look forward to more of these! Best of luck with the hike! Maybe I will see you out there!