Challenges

August 15
There is so little opportunity to stop, to think, to be alone, to contemplate for any period of time. It seems we are reacting to incoming barrages 90% of the time and distracted by innumerable stimuli vying for a little attention. Many of us are pulled further and further from the dirt, the land, nature. I can’t prove it, but I feel that human beings have some need for a connection to the earth and our unnatural world either prevents it or makes it much more difficult. Don’t get me wrong; I’m all for progress, but with some balance.

I also believe that human beings need to invent challenges if they don’t come along naturally.  Without challenges and unusual circumstances, we can’t really know ourselves, how we respond, what we feel, what our strengths and weaknesses are in the face of those unknowns. We were built that way.  Lack of threat, hardship, challenge breeds complacency, ennui and often keeps us from reaching whatever potential we have.  I’m just making this up my own challenge as I go along.  I am not encouraging anyone else to do it.

And yes, I read Wild but I would like to think that had no bearing on me doing this.

So, with that little bit of philosophizing out of the way, I introduce another reason for my trip. I want to learn how I will respond to being “out there” with no familiar faces for a time.

I just read what I wrote and it sounds overly dramatic but I’ll leave it in anyway.

I am really looking forward to not seeing and hearing the news every day, to not seeing and hearing commercials, to not looking at Facebook or checking emails a dozen times a day. My main daily goal will be to get from point A to point B and watching my stuff so it does not get lost or stolen. Most of the people on trails are honest but one cannot be too careful today.

I have been practicing backpacking with a focus on walking slowly and carefully, paying attention to the scenery and the sounds and the climate. Instead of focusing on the weight of the bag, the ache in my legs and the heavy breathing. Quite a mindset change. It even works sometimes. It will make me more aware of the beautiful scenery I will encounter as well as any potential obstacles to avoid.

A doctor of mine from a long time ago once said to me: “Keep jogging until you can’t, and then walk; keep walking until you can’t and then crawl; keep crawling until you can’t and then just flap your arms”.  I am still at the walking stage.