The Importance of Not Giving a Shit

“Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come,
or a plane to go or the mail to come,
or the rain to go or the phone to ring,
or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or No
or waiting for their hair to grow.

Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night

or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.

Everyone is just waiting.”

– Dr. Seuss

I’ve been perfecting the art of not-giving-a-shit since I, or my parents, can remember. Whether I was tricking the babysitter-of-the-week into eating Play-Doh disguised as Hubba Bubba or simply not eating my eggs (because ew), I’ve always had this “Chelsea’s gonna do what Chelsea’s gonna do” attitude.

That isn’t to say I’m some force to be reckoned with – I just believe in doing what I want.

Oscar Wilde once said, “selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live”.

I feel you, Oscar. 

For every action, there are consequences. I get that. I’ve just never been super concerned with the consequence part. No great story ever started with someone waiting for the right time or following the rules.

Telling a group of complete strangers you’re embarking on a some-months long excursion into the woods is empowering. Exciting. Thrilling.

Telling your friends and family is actually really annoying.

As much as I love talking about the AT, I hate answering questions like

“Are you going to bring a gun?”


“Really, are you sure? What about bears? What about clowns? What about ISIS?”

Yep. I’m sure. Thanks though – you’ve obviously done your research.

I’m afraid of a lot of things…


dark water and the creatures which reside within it,

bellybuttons, birds, people from Philly,

the milk leftover from cereal –

there’s a very extensive list here, folks, but “taking risks” has not made that list.

There’s a small number of people who attempt to thru-hike the AT, and an even smaller number who finish, but there’s an ENORMOUS number of people who never even try. Maybe the majority of that enormous number doesn’t want to, which is cool. I get it.

I mean, I don’t fully understand, but I get it.

I’m sometimes received with weird looks accompanied by “why would you want to do that?”,

but sometimes I get “I wish I had the time”,

“if I had the money”,

“I would love to, but…” 

And that is the importance of not giving a shit.

I don’t have the time, I don’t have the money, and I would love to – so I am.

Nobody ever had the time or the money to just do it.

Maybe I’m naive or maybe that’s the difference between those who hike and those who don’t.

As is the apparent tradition, I’ve compiled a few lists

Why I’m hiking:

  • I’m beginning to resent human beings as a whole. Yes, I realize there will be human beings on the trail, but most of them will not be said humans I resent.
  • I put my thru-hike on hold so I could enlist in the Navy. While I hated every minute of those four years, I’m thrilled that I get to finish school and am in a somewhat financially-able position to hike the trail.
  • I need to deal with my bullshit. I know the months spent on the trail will allow for some time for self-reflection, of which I am in dire need. Not that the trail will be a cure-all for my emotional instability, but it will help fa sho.

What I’ll do when I finish:

  • Well, while we’re talking dreams – the grand plan is to move to Colorado with my dog, Scout, and boyfriend/co-hiker, Cameron, where we will open a yoga studio/counseling center. I’m in charge of yoga, he handles peoples’ problems. More on that to come, probably.
  • If we successfully finish the AT, I’m going to start planning for the PCT. Cameron may or may not know that yet.

What I’ll do if I fail:

I can’t answer this one honestly. I want to say I’ll keep my head up and finish at a later date or move on with life, realizing my goals were only dreams, but I just can’t see that happening.

I know life goes on, but I also know I can do this. Sure, life gets in the way, but it always has and it always will. Shit happens, but that’s the importance of not giving a shit and the art of moving forward.


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Comments 5

  • Avatar
    Dennis : Dec 28th


    You are right on!!!!! I just turned 70 and decided to do the AT starting in April 2017. I have been retired for ten years, I have saved the money, I want to go……but there was always a wedding to attend, a family issue that required me to stay near home, a wife who loves me but is scared to death about this hike. There is NEVER a good time to go…..I finally said to myself”I don’t give a shit, I am going”. I am in excellent condition, have no health issues and most importantly, I have the desire. I convinced a younger brother to do the same…..we are doing a flip flop thru hike starting in Harper’s Ferry NOBO to Maine then returning by train to Harper’s Ferry SOBO to Springer Mtn. Enjoy the experience!!!!

    • Avatar
      Chelsea Bates : Dec 28th

      Hey thanks! That’s awesome. I love seeing other people just do the damn thing – whatever that thing may be. Best wishes to you, your brother, and your wife! Happy trails!

  • Avatar
    Ken : Dec 28th

    I’m a 64 year old man in decent condition! Outside of hiking trails in Florida on Saturday mornings at 4-5 miles. I want to do the AT badly! I should do a guided few day hike first unless I can get someone to go with me! I will keep up you!!! Let’s do this!!! Email me if you would like a hiking partner. Thanks and happy hiking Freinds!

  • Avatar
    Vincent Allaire : Dec 28th

    I wish you luck. What an I saying… Fuck luck! You got will, son much powerfull than luck. Just do it!!!

  • Avatar
    Zach : Dec 28th

    Belly buttons are bad and Colorado is good.


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