the little things. being content in the moment.
It was our first night on trail and we had put up our tent, a Durston X-Mid2 at Hauser Creek. Sleep had come slowly as I was still energized by the excitement of the first day on trail. Then, out of the darkness of the bushes on my side of the tent, a large animal jumped out. It landed on me, trying to make its way through the thin layer of fabric between us. Certain of my doom, I fought it off with all the strength I had left in me after hiking 15 miles (+3 extra to get water). I thrashed about in the folds of mesh netting until I realized the attack was over.
This was how I found myself laying awake around 11 pm, annoyed that I had been so rudely awakened by my tent falling on me. My husband rolled over in his sleep and pulled the stake out of the sandy soil. Not a ferocious mountain lion, just my trekking pole turned tent frame landing on my head.
My mind drifted to my feet and the painful blisters I had already acquired. My shoulders hurt. My low back pain, a gift from our recent move and box hauling, was at least a little better. All I could think about was how, in the next week to two weeks, my feet would adjust, my blisters would heal, my lungs would do better getting me up the hills, and my “trail legs” would make an appearance. But, as I sat there, I realized that I was falling into the same patterns I had always followed. Always looking to the future, to the next milestone, the next goal to be accomplished – when I get through college, finish med school, graduate residency, complete fellowship and on and on. Never really living in the moment.
So I stopped that line of thought about how I hurt and how I was hopeful that things would be better in the next few weeks. Because the truth is, I don’t have to be pain free and struggle free to enjoy the moment that I am in. I don’t have to “get through” each day. I think about the reason I am here which is to reconnect with myself, with nature and with what makes me “me”. Constantly thinking about the future when I will be a different “me” doesn’t do that. So I calmed my breathing, put the burning in my feet out of my mind and just listened. And I heard the nearby squeaks of rodents and the far off hooting of an owl. I opened my eyes to the night sky and the clear stars above me winking through the trees. I thought about the people I had met and connections already made.
Society has become so fast paced and future/goal oriented that we miss out on all of the small things that make life worth living. I think that is what calls so many to the trail – the deep yearning to stop letting life pass you by. In the first few days on trail I have reminded myself to look up and take it all in. These are moments we won’t get back and constantly looking to the future only means you will never be content in the present.
See you on the trail!
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