Friday, September 28, 2012

Thoughts And Feelings In List Form

I mentioned in an earlier post that I was making lists in my head about post-PCT life. (People who know me well can now make jokes about me making mental lists. Typical.)  Since we've been out of the woods, many people have asked us to expand and share. So, I thought I'd put some thoughts and reflections down here for y'all since you have, after all, followed us along on this wild, foot-powered ride.

Here goes.

Things I'll Miss About The Trail

1. A daily sense of purpose. I know we all wake up in the morning with to-do lists and such, but having that daily drive, a goal and a, well, purpose was an incredible feeling. Every day was a piece of a larger and more daunting puzzle and by the time I went to sleep I felt like I'd made headway.  I felt proud of myself and Trav everyday... how often in life can you say/feel that?
2. Simplicity. Let's be clear, it's not an easy lifestyle but it is simple. Life isn't cluttered with stuff and commitments and junk. You think more clearly, things make more sense.
3. Fresh air. The air out there is crisp and once you breathe easy every day, all day for months, you realize it's vitality.
4.  Eating whatever I want.  Two Snickers a day for months is easy to miss.
5. The company. We were surrounded by inspired, creative, driven and interesting people.  Plus, everyone you meet on trail has the same end goal as you so you feel connected immediately. I loved that.
6. The wilderness. The big, wild West.

Things I Won't Miss About The Trail

1. Digging a hole every morning. No need to expand there, you get it.
2. An achy body.
3. Being disconnected from people I love.
4. Being a machine. Thru hiking is really different that any other backpacking trip I've been on... you HAVE to keep moving. It's a marathon for backpackers and you can't always just stop and sit and enjoy your surroundings. Sometimes you just feel like a miles machine, like you're on a conveyor belt all the way to Canada. It's fun (most days), don't get me wrong, but I look forward to getting back into recreational backpacking.

Things I'm Looking Forward To In The 'Real World'

1. Diversity. I've joked that thru hikers were the most diverse group of white people you'll ever experience, but it is that... mostly white. It was wonderful to walk the streets of Vancouver with dozens of different colors, sizes, shapes and cultures of people.
2. Jeans. And all cotton for that matter.  Oh, and earrings.
3. Variety. In food, clothes, activity...
4. FRESH food.

(An admission here: This list was a lot longer while I was hiking. Now that I'm sitting in the 'real world' in front of a computer I thought I missed... I'm having a hard time generating more specifics.)

Things I'm Not Looking Forward To In The 'Real World'

1. Election noise. And noise in general.
2. Hustle and bustle. Slow down people. Take a deep breath.
3. Too many choices. I know I just said I wanted variety, but really we all have waaaaay more options that we need.
4. Drama. This is a hard one to explain, but I'll try... As we sat on the tarmac waiting to get to our gate in Houston, the woman next to me continued to make snarky remarks and create drama about the way that people were lining up the aisle. I couldn't have cared less. I was fine and comfortable in my seat and I knew we'd be off the plane in time. Big deal. People make a lot of drama out of nothing, and I'm not looking forward to being exposed to it.
5. Crowds. We had so much wide open (and beautiful) space for so long and we're both acutely aware of how many people are around and in our personal space. This is new to me... I've never minded close quarters.
6. Losing touch with the trail and the experience.

Thoughts On Staying Centered

This is inspired by my dear friend Meg's recent post on her blog. But as #6 on my last list states, there is so much of the trail life that I don't want to lose touch with.  As I float around in post-trail life, I'm working on holding on to these principles  They're simple learnings, and most are pretty obvious, but we all need reminders. Especially me.

1. You already have everything you need. Stuff is stuff and none of us need more. Get good, quality stuff that you know works, take care of it, keep it clean and working and don't get wrapped up in needing (wanting?) more. It's easy to have less when you have to carry all of it on your back, but it is an immediate actualization of how little we need to get by.  I actually saw this phrase written on the sidewalk in chalk in Vancouver and it has been on a neon, scrolling screen in my brain ever since.
2.  Hike your own hike.  Okay, so we're not hiking anymore, but I was always struck and impressed with how committed hikers are to this philosophy.  The idea is that everyone is on their own journey. Everyone is carrying their own stuff. Everyone should go their own pace. Everyone is responsible for themselves. And everyone is just looking to enjoy the adventure. It works in 'real life'... just think about it.
3. Move.  Walking 20+ miles is a bit excessive, but moving feels good, clears the mind and makes the body feel better.
4. Stay on top of tasks. Out there, water won't filter itself, dinner can't be ordered in, and no one is going to dig your hole for you. It's easy to put little things off and wait to do them later, but most of the time, important tasks go so fast that in the time you spend putting them off, they'd be done, and you can keep moving (direct plug for #3).  Plus, you get the satisfaction of feeling productive. Simple right? Now quit reading this blog and go do something. Zing!
5.  Look around. We walked though some of the most beautiful wilderness in the world, but there were days where we wouldn't see anything because we had our heads down, charging the trail. I regret now that I didn't spend more time paying attention to my surroundings. There's cool stuff everywhere, and if you pay attention, you feel more centered in yourself and your surroundings.
6.  Show gratitude. Plain and simple. 

1 comment:

  1. "You already have everything you need." Yes. Before I even read this post, I had been thinking about this idea a lot in the past couple of weeks, and some if it came from reading ya'll's blog. I'm getting a bit stir-crazy in my little routine life right now. There are so many wonderful aspects of having a stable, rooted home, but it's also so easy to get caught up in some wacked-out priorities of accumulation of stuff. I miss that feeling of my more transient times, living out of backpacks, cars, tents, knowing that I had everything I needed. That scarcity of material goods seemed to go hand in hand with the abundance of adventures and possibilities. Here's to living with just enough, and thanks for the reminder.

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