Notes from the AT Disabled List
“… The problems of the human heart in conflict with itself – only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat.”
– William Faulkner
A heart in conflict
“When do we go back to the trail?” I wake up thinking.
“This has been a long stretch of zeroes and we’re going to fall behind. We need to make up miles if we’re going to get to Maine in time…”
Then I really wake up
My blurry morning eyes catch a glimpse of the heavy boot cast on my right leg. Nearly three pounds of foam and Velcro, plastic and metal. Nothing ultralight about it.
My sore shoulder and side muscles remind me I’ve traded in the pack for a push-cart, the trekking poles for crutches.
I’ve coined a new phrase for my mileage goals on Instagram, a hashtag that at least one friend says will trend.
Instead of “Crushed 25 miles today,” it’s “Crutch’ed my first 0.5.”
It is summer. It is glorious. A walk around the block gets easier by the day.
I miss the trail.
Do we have to talk about the injury?
Here it is, as of last Monday:
The break is the upper left. The green shows how the margins between foot and leg bones are squaring off nicely, according to the orthopedist.
My weekly X-ray party continues this Monday when I find out once and for all if I need surgery.
That is all there is to say about that.
But ask me about the trail
What I miss.
Why I insist on continuing—and please God, finishing—next year.
Ask me how it felt to wake up to the sound of mourning doves and fall asleep to a chorus of frogs.
Ask me about the way Tadpole’s southern lilt made “How’d you sleep, Sprout?” sound like a song.
Ask me how that hike in Northern Pennsylvania felt like a holy art installation of spider webs.
Ask me about the impossibly bright blue of the chicory flower,
and the strange story of the moon.
Ask me about the time I preached from Pulpit Rock,
and about the mother bear with her yearlings who preached to us about taking our time.https://photos.thetrek.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/10170712/img_2524.trim_.mov
Ask me how Militant Buddhist (in a non-militant way) taught me to meditate. And to later make peace with an injury.
Remind me to tell you of the red-haired soprano-sax player in Delaware Water Gap who made us all more glad to be alive.https://photos.thetrek.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/10171806/img_4622.mov
Tell me about your trail.
You say, “I didn’t do anything as exciting as hike the Appalachian Trail.”
I say, “I didn’t do anything as exciting as summit Mount Katahdin.”
You say, “I’m not sure there’s anything new.”
I say, “I never got to New England.”
As Rob Bell says,
“Who you aren’t isn’t interesting.”
Tell me who you are.
Tell me about your terrain.
Tell me who you met and what you saw.
Tell me what’s been worth your agony and sweat, and I’ll tell you what’s been worth mine.
A heart’s content
Here’s what’s true for me today-
I am broken.
And I am full.
I am missing out.
And I am welcomed in.
I am profoundly disappointed.
And I am looking up at a sky so blue
there is no room for anything but thanks.
More to come,
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