Who do you need to become?

“Who is your dream asking you to become.” For the past month, multiple questions have surfaced with my decision to hike the AT. Some have been answered– some not.  At this point, my brother Bennett still doesn’t know I want to do this. I had dinner with my mom and dad a few weeks ago. We were sitting in one of our favorite restaurants in Charlottesville. We had almost finished eating and the big topic had not yet come up. There came a lull in the conversation…which my mom took as a cue to start the interrogation. “Who are you doing this for? What are you running from? Are you not happy? What are you getting from this? What about your job and Nathan? What about your Rheumatoid Arthritis…let alone your medicine?”- the heart string questions.

I have hopes that down the road I can answer these questions with a confidence, knowledge, and ease that wont make others doubt me or make me feel overly defensive. In fact, this is a skill I wish I had in answering questions and talking in general… To be articulate, to speak in a cadence that demands attention, to speak out loud and not actively criticize myself while I’m hearing what I’m actually saying. It is a flaw I find in myself and it was magnified that evening.

I wish my goal was as simple as getting to Katahdin. I visualize it. I  see myself on the summit. I feel the sweat on my clothes cooling from the wind. I see myself closing my eyes and thanking whatever higher force got me to that point…Needless to say, I am not worried about getting to Katahdin. I will get there. My goal, however, is to be as present as I can be. To me, getting to Katahdin is just as important as getting to Springer mountain, Skyline Drive, Mt. Washington or any summit of the White Mountains. I am using the AT to be my meditation, to be my church/community, to be exactly who I am– on that day– in that moment. I want to fully feel the exhaustion, exhilaration, cold, warmth, hunger, and joy. I want to live in a state of deprivation so when I take a hot bath, eat a home-made meal, or be held in Nathan’s arms, I will truly feel it and already miss it–in all its glory– and be reminded of how beautiful and simple it all can be.

I can prepare, prepare, and prepare. I can be physically ready. However, nothing is going to prepare me fully for the phycological toll this will present. I have read Zach Davis’s book “Appalachian Trials” and he had discussed in depth this very topic. There is no reason why I should not be happy and find joy and love within this experience- though this will require the greatest mental preparedness,  I must make this decision actively, every single day on the the trail. I will try to have positive mantras ready for my bad days. For example, days of the never ending inclines in the cold, pouring rain; they will come and I will have to accept that I cannot change it–so why not learn to love it.

This guy is great!

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