The Significance of Seven
In Chapter 2 of Pacific Crest Trials, Zach suggests creating a list of reasons why you’re hiking the trail to act as a motivational tool when questioning your sanity on the trail. One of the items on my list, while not particularly motivational, but true nonetheless, was “apparently I have a thing for -7 birthdays, which drives me to do more and more challenging shit in the -7 years”.
When I think back over the years, I realize how true this actually is.
I’ve never actually gone all the way back to when I was 7, but when I did, I realized this was the year we moved across the country. While not my choice, it was still a big deal, since I’d lived in the same city my whole young life. For the first time I was living far away from my family and friends.
I joined the army reserves. That’s right, I signed on the dotted line, as did my parents, since I was underage, when I was 16. I started basic training a few weeks after my 17th birthday. When I think back, it seems utterly impossible that I did that, when I was so young and naïve! But I did and I survived. I even went on to serve in the reserves and regular force for several more years.
I was freaking out about turning the big 3-0. Oh my GOD! How could I face 30 when I didn’t feel like I’d accomplished anything? I didn’t have a career, or kids, or any idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. But in reality, I was married (and still am 21 years later), I had already ‘retired’ after eight and a half years in the army, and I went back to university to get a degree. I can see now, how silly it was to be making such a big deal about turning 30. Honestly, it’s nearly impossible and unnecessary to have it all figured out by 30!
Ten years later, I felt like I had something to prove, that I might be getting older but I wasn’t dead yet. So, I ran a marathon. Yes, this is what my brain decided was the best way to prove I was still alive and kicking. This wasn’t my first marathon. I actually ran my first marathon when I was 33. I remember thinking, in my last 5 km, “I WILL NOT quit, because I am NEVER running another marathon, so I’d better finish this one”. Then 37 was upon me and I decided that, yes, I was going to run another marathon. Not only did I run it, I beat my last time of 4:20 by 20 minutes.
Last spring, without thinking about what year it was, I started planning this big hike for 2017, which of course, is a -7 year. The big 4-7. What better way to celebrate it than with a 2660-mile walk through three states? I guess I could look at it as the older I get, the more I believe in myself and my ability to pull off these bigger and better adventures.
I’m a little afraid to think about what will come into my consciousness for 57. Whatever it is, I’m sure it will be spectacular. How can it not be? I haven’t let myself down yet.
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