Reading through my trail journal this week I was struck by how spontaneous life was on the trail…and how fixated on food I was. I’ve mentioned before that on the average day a hiker could burn between 2,000 and 4,000 calories. It isn’t feasible to carry that much food (calories) on your back, so hikers would binge when they came into town. The quantities of food that I wrote about eating in town are hard to fathom.
During this time in 2000 I was in Pennsylvania heading into New Jersey at the Delaware Water Gap. (There are some really fun photos from this section of trail at the bottom of today’s post.) The trail started getting rockier and more challenging to hike on, but I was 1400+ miles strong by this point and could march over just about anything. Towns started becoming a bit more frequent and I spent the night in the basement of a jail and the basement of a church in this section of trail.
I really enjoy looking back through my journal because the things I recorded mean a lot to me. Other people who read what I have written would find some entertaining things but would also have a lot of gaps that only my memories can fill in. Living vicariously through someone is not near as fun as living in the moment where you find yourself.
In the past week, I’ve had three different conversations about hiking the Appalachian Trail. They were all with people who would like to hike the trail at some point. A young married couple, a retired man, and a college age student…all of them were fascinated by the thought of being on the trail. I think they would all enjoy the experience and should give it a shot when the opportunity presents itself. While I was on the trail I ran into countless people in town who said they had always wanted to hike the trail. Life complicated the dream.
Those conversations did get me to thinking about the interrelation of dreams and reality. We all find ourselves in a distinct set of circumstances. One time my wife asked me if our life was how I envisioned it, and I believe my response might have scared her a bit. I said, “No, I never really pictured myself being married and having children.” Probably not the best thing to say. I went on to explain that I never really had a clear vision for where I would be in life or what I wanted to be doing but that I fully embrace the opportunities that God gives me in life. I went on to redeem myself by saying that I never could have envisioned anything as good as being married to my best friend and having two happy, healthy girls.
Living in the moment is a ‘big thing’ I try to remember in my life and it is a message I try to communicate often to the teenagers and college students that I work with. With the younger ones I tell them to enjoy being a kid, embrace it fully. There will come a day when you wish you could be bored. For the college students I talk about preparing for a life where they can provide for their needs and for a future family, but also to take advantage of opportunities to grow and explore while they are young and single.
I’m finding that the best adventure of my life is the one I’m on right now. Our children are fascinating. I was comforting our 1 year-old the other day in our rocking chair. She wasn’t feeling well and was letting me hold her and soothe her back to sleep. Those days will soon be over. In the past week our 5 year-old has said some of the craziest things. She is intensely observant and amazingly creative.
It’s fun to look back and think about the lessons I learned about myself and life while on the Applachian Trail. It is also amazing to think about the lessons I am learning in this stage of life. Living in the moment allows me to enjoy the rich blessings of life right now!
(PS – I’ve started keeping a journal again. The adventure I’m on right now is bigger than my hike on the Appalachian Trail :))