Yes I Can
(No, the title of this post isn’t meant to be a partisan reference. However, it references a campaign slogan and this post is about voting and I am a clever blogger, so there you go.)
I am not good with many simple practical tasks. I have trouble using can openers. I’m not sure if milliliters measure volume or weight. I usually can’t tell the difference between navy blue and black.
I go through daily life hoping for the best but hoping harder to find someone who can guide me or just do it for me.
Hence, one of my thru-hiking goals is to get better at “doing stuff.” I’m happy to say that I have already demonstrated a new ability to complete tasks.
For instance, my tendency toward incompetence should have prevented me from learning to set up my single-pole tent, but after many tries setting it up on the landing, several of which involved one or more ends of the pole scraping the ceiling or flying over the railing, I figured it out. I know what the grommet and the Jake’s feet are. I even emailed Nemo to find out how the hell you attach the footprint to the tent (which they make ridiculously difficult). I stood and stared at the footprint, then the Jake’s feet, and struggled to connect it many, many times. My husband heard me cursing the tent and offered to help and I said no, this I must do on my own.
I did. Yes I can.
My bear canister is, of course, meant to be hard for a bear to open. It’s also pretty hard for a human to open. Here’s an adorable video of bear vs. BV500 which actually is pretty close to how I looked trying to figure out how to open my BV450.
My husband saw me grunting and pulling on the lid, much like the video bear, and offered to help but again I said no, this is a task I must learn alone.
I did. Yes I can.
As I master more hiking-related tasks I have begun to feel more competent in general. I am more confident that I can open that jar or pack that suitcase.
The real test came with the voting booth assembly.
I have worked as an election clerk for about 14 years, and every year I have had training in the use of the voting machine Harris County (Texas) uses. Clerks are expected to know how to set up the voting booth. Its assembly involves taking it off the rack; opening it up; assembling the legs and sides and connecting the daisy chain cords from one booth to the next and then to the processing unit and connecting them to the power source. At the end of the day you repeat the process backwards.
Do you think I’ve assembled these machines every year? Or any year? Or pretended I had to run and get something while someone else took care of it? The logical answer is the latter. But having mastered various hiking tasks, this year I feel something new: confidence. When I had my annual training two days ago I opened the box containing the unassembled voting booth, looked at the poles that come out of the box this way and connect to the others that way and for the first time I thought, wait, I think I get that – I think I can figure out how to do it.
That means my thru-hike has started successfully, without me setting a foot on the AT. That means that yes, yes indeed, I can.
Texans, please watch this video and GO VOTE! If you live in Harris County’s precinct 718 I will be waiting for you…
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Ruth, congratulations on your new-found independence! You just might find “figuring it out” to be addictive, and it will certainly serve you well on the trail. Happy hiking!