Greetings from the sunny South! After a long and wonderful road trip visiting friends and family down the East Coast, we’ve arrived at our home base – Atlanta, Georgia. Our last days in Somerville were filled with friends, food and fun (the way life should be!). We stayed up late packing our remaining dinners, smoothies and snacks, tinkering with our gear, and undertaking a major house clean before we packed up all things trail-related and began our drive southward. It was hard to say goodbye, but also wonderful knowing that we have a home and a community that we love waiting for us at the end of the trail.
Now that we’re less than 72 hours from beginning our trek, it’s time for some philosophical/existential/spiritual musings. (Warning: Things get a little mushy from here on out, but I think you can handle it!) Here’s what’s on our minds as we pack up and prepare for whatever is to come:
Hike your own hike. We picked up this old adage from our days on the A.T. Its takeaway is: You can make big plans, but you never know how things will play out once you’re on the trail. And you can easily compare your experience and your decisions to others’, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to hike the hike that’s right for you. Amen!
This too. This is a favorite saying that I picked it up from a wonderful book by Dani Shapiro. It can be taken to mean, “this too shall pass,” which has always been solid wisdom for difficult times, of which I’m sure we’ll encounter many in the coming months. But more than that, I think of it along the lines of “this too is part of life;” “this too is the present moment;” “this feeling is part of my experience, too.” I hope to carry the wisdom of this simple phrase with me in each step – even as frustrations, anxieties and joys inevitably take us on an unpredictable journey of emotions and experiences.
Be here now. We’re a little bit older and (arguably) a little bit wiser than we were four years ago on the A.T. We’re hoping to be more present to life itself on this trail – to take moments each day to reflect and bring ourselves into the present. It’s easy to get into your own head while walking for hours on end, but we’re looking forward to trying to bring ourselves back to the here and now. After all, there’s nowhere else we’d rather be!
Embrace gratitude. We feel fortunate to go on an adventure like this; we are already thankful for the wonders of nature that await, and we’re so grateful for the people who love and support us. Plus, everybody knows that grateful folks have the most fun!
You take yourself with you wherever you go. This one is all my dad. For as long as I can remember, he’s imparted me with this wisdom, and every day I find it to be true. Running away from our problems and fears never works because, after all, you’re still you beneath the running. In the same vein, fearing the future and the things we can’t predict doesn’t do us any good either – we’ll take ourselves there, too…one step at a time. So, no matter how many miles we walk, we’re taking ourselves with us – for better or worse.
Ok, that’s done! If you’re now envisioning us as blissfully mindful yogis heading out into a pristine world of meditative bliss – think again! I’m sure these mantras will be much harder to keep in mind when we’re faced with the inevitable sunburn, indomitable heat rash, and omnipresent, stubborn mosquitoes, but we’ve got to start somewhere, right?! As for now, the sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and it’s time for lunch!