The Simplicity of Happiness
I started my Appalachian Trail hike in April 2013.
Before then, I had been living in Chicago for about three years. I’d moved there after my college graduation and immediately began working with a financial services firm.
At first, working a 40+ hour week was a big adjustment for me. I would leave the office at the end of the day and be in such a complete daze – Kind of like “Who am I, where am I.” My mind would be completely fried. And so I would tell family and friends about this and everyone would tell me I’ll get used to that feeling. And I did.
Then one day I had this terrifying vision and thought of “This is my life. This will be the outline of my life.” Two- and-a-half years later I quit my job to hike the A.T. and completed my hike in September 2013.
Since the moment I quit to basically live in the woods, the most common question I get is “Why?” and I never really had an answer.
The below is my answer.
It was the hardest reality to have ever have hit me.
To realize this would be my life. This predictable schedule of monotony.
I would wake up early Monday through Friday. Perhaps go for a run.
It would be a dark run, since I would have to be at work by 9am. Maybe 8am.
And when I arrived at work, I would sit at my desk, send emails, read emails, walk to the bathroom, walk back to my desk, take calls.
I would leave around 5pm most likely. Once home I would wearily make dinner. Eat dinner.
Sure, there would be evenings where I went out for drinks. Good drinks with good friends. That would be really living. Really letting loose.
But most nights I would go to sleep at a decent hour after perusing around online.
If it was a Monday I would have four more splendid days of this to look forward to. However, should it be a Friday…now this, this would be my chance to live.
And so that reality did hit me; the reality that my life would be this way, the reality that everyone around me was screaming “This is living! This is happiness!”
The realization I was not happy was a hard hit. If happiness is going to knock me to the ground and hope I stay there, flat on my back, eyes shut, ears closed, mouth covered, then it would be a happiness I would never know.
Choosing to quit my job and leave my friends in Chicago, a city I had come to love, to hike the A.T. with pretty much no backpacking experience, is one of the best choices I ever made – As is moving to Chicago and taking that job. Today my happiness stems from these experiences and realizing that what might seemingly make some people happy does not make me happy. And the simplicity of making this distinction allows me to make choices for my life I might not have made otherwise.
In Pursuit of Happiness
I’m moving to Asheville, N.C. in a few days, which is home to me, where I’ll be a hiking guide and looking for a second job. I don’t have a laptop and I don’t have internet on my Blackberry (yes, I still have a Blackberry). I walk a lot and ride my bicycle to save on gas money and because being outside puts me under the same sky I hiked under for five-and-a-half months. My time on the A.T. brought out all these choices – All of which I’m thrilled with!
Being in the woods helped me realize I will not be unemployed my entire life because I quit a job. I will not be doomed to a life of suckyness because I chose to do something that makes me happy – To leap out of my comfort zone with 29 pounds of gear on my back and enter the woods on the Appalachian Trail.
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