I hike. I fucking love to hike. I grew up loving the outdoors because I had no choice. My home was in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Rappahannock County, Flint Hill, Virginia. My brother Bennett and I were raised on a forever-evolving Nubian goat and Angus beef cattle farm–where my parents mistakenly confused homeschooling for “hippy-modern” child labor. It was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.
I have memories of my grandmother coming to the farm to take me shoe shopping because she was concerned I didn’t have any–that was not true, but then again, not necessarily too far from it. My feet were always dirt-stained, wet-grass covered, cut and callused from the barefoot gravel races down the drive way, the bullfrog catching in the snake infested creek, and the better traction one gets with individual toes when jumping from one hay bail to the next.
Something grows within a child who breathes clean air, knows what dirt tastes like, has experienced the weight of morning dew on the legs of jean overalls when retrieving the Jersey’s for morning milking. A child exposed to these elements can never truly conform to society. They are not slaves to technology, materialism, and consumerism. They are not aware of their “deprivation” because they are guided to live in pure trust and love with the knowledge they are always protected. Most importantly, they are invincible because they never fall victim to others fears. I believe a child exposed to these elements may have a clearer understanding of the “big purpose” than most adults ever do.
In short, I have grown increasingly distant from my purpose and I am on a journey to find it. Appalachian Trail, April 1st… here I come.
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