Why I’m Leaving Everything Behind in One Month
I’ve had this crazy plan for a couple of years now: to walk the Appalachian Trail in its entirety. Over the course of that time, I’ve identified some of my deeper whys, but have never sat down to hash them out. Here’s my attempt at reconnecting with that deep and introspective part of my self that I think I said goodbye to after high school, in favor of a simpler life amid college, jobs, and marriage.
I’m Tired of Saying “I Can’t”
Does anyone else remember those dreaded presidential fitness challenges back in elementary school? I sure do. I’m pretty sure I’m scarred for life thanks to those challenges.
If you’re one of the lucky few to have dodged the yearly torture, you didn’t miss out on much. Basically, for a week straight, we had various “challenges” we had to complete in gym class (sit-ups, pull-ups, etc.). You were placed in categories based on how many in each category you completed.
So, you can imagine the pain this week caused for those who weren’t the fittest, athletically inclined, or physically coordinated… like me. I hated this week, and I did whatever I could to get out of the various challenges. Especially the mile run. Rather than going out and giving it my all, I had a written note explaining that my asthma would be preventing me from completing the run. Honestly? A quick puff on an inhaler and I’d be fine, but my gym teacher didn’t need to know that.
This began my series of excuses and reasons why “I can’t.” But, somewhere along the way, I got tired of those excuses and began to wonder if maybe, just maybe, I’m at least a bit more capable than I’d given myself credit for.
Enter hiking. I fell in love with (day) hiking. I tried out backpacking, which ended in miserable failure. But, rather than stick with my patterns growing up, I put my reasons why I couldn’t backpack aside and tried it again. Fast forward a couple of years and I’m staring down a thru-hike.
I’m tired of saying “I can’t” and not pushing myself. I’m ready to see what I’m capable of.
Reconnecting with Who I Am
Have you ever felt like maybe you aren’t meant to live the way you have been? That maybe we’ve been fed lies about how to nourish and heal our bodies? And maybe we (mentally and physically) are capable of so much more, but we don’t realize it when stuck in the daily monotony of the rat race?
I think maybe yes.
I began down this journey a few years ago. I changed up my diet (hello Paleo, goodbye excess weight, fatigue, and crippling anxiety), approach to fitness, and even my footwear.
In a grander scheme of things, my husband and I are making moves to build a homestead that can sustain our family and allows us to no longer be at the mercy of bosses and 9-5 schedules. My goal is to eventually no longer work for someone else but be full time on the homestead (and raise alpacas as therapy animals).
I liked the idea of having something serve as a segue and sort of palate cleansing from traditional work. Thus, a thru-hike. Now, when I return from my hike, I might very well go back to working a traditional job part time, but never to the extent that I am now, and not for very long. It’ll be more of a means to an end, rather than my entire life.
Nature Is My Church
I was raised in the church and, from a young age, identified as a Christian. I went through a time, though, that I became disillusioned with the church and who it made God out to be. While I may have been able to move past a lot of that in recent years, I still feel that I get the truest sense of who God is when I am in nature, when I’m hiking and surrounded by His creation.
So, this rather extended time in the woods will be used as a time to get rid of many distractions, and being forced to spend time with myself, my thoughts, and in conversation with God (much more than the passing prayers said during long commutes to work).
Because It’s There
I’ve heard this reason tossed around a time or two and I actually love it. “The trail is there, waiting, so why not?” I’m young, my husband and I have yet to start a family, and we’re at a point that we can take the hit from me quitting my job (not that social work makes me the bread winner or anything). The trail is there and the time is right. So why not?
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