Monday, July 21, 2014

PCT: Please, Carlie. Try.

How long can you ride the wave of a major accomplishment?

How long is it a viable description of your life?

How long should you wait until you let it go?

When is it okay to begin looking into the future again?

When is it that you bring into focus a new endeavor?

When is it that I will attempt a thru hike of the Pacific Crest Trail?

This last question has been haunting me. Two thousand, six hundred and sixty three miles have been haunting me. The blistering heat of the Mojave Desert and the bone chilling cold of the snowy High Sierras have been haunting me. Dramatic views of our arrestingly beautiful country have been haunting me. Living out the story of humanity in the rawest form, carrying my life on my back again and once again relying on the good hearts of my fellow humans has been haunting me.

When I set out to thru hike the Appalachian Trail I had only been backpacking twice, a collective three nights and four days. One of those times included hiking up and over Blood Mountain in August without enough water, which I can truly say is a mistake you only make once in the muggy dog days of a Georgian summer. Still, this is did not clue me into the tribulations and suffering that a successful thru hike requires. Hiking two thousand, one hundred and eighty five miles seemed doable because I hadn't done it before.

With the thoughts of the PCT slipping in and our of my thoughts, all those AT miles give me reference to the PCT miles that could be in my future if I so chose. (I am claiming nothing at this point in time!) And five hundred MORE miles than Springer to Katahdin feels more than just scary, more than just crazy. It feels IMPOSSIBLE. I was so ragged out and worn down at the end of the AT that I was finishing on pure grit and stubbornness.

Could I do that all again?

Could I convince myself to suffer all over for another beautiful experience of thru hiking?

Could I muster again those character traits that helped me finish the AT?

Would they hold out for an extra five hundred miles and last me through the PCT?

Would I be able to do it?

Would I regret not trying more than failing?

I think the only question out of any of these that I can even being to speculate on was the last. Surely I would regret never trying to thru hike the Pacific Crest Trail. There are so many other life changing journeys in life that I could embark on. I have proven myself in the backpacking world, and yet there is something that draws me back to hiking a long distance trail. That "something" lies somewhere on a scale between the security of having done it once before and the fear that I only finished the first one on a fluke. If I can do it twice, on two different trails, then surely I will have conquered long distance backpacking, right?

The problem is that I think I might be content in my life right now. It is a strange feeling for a restless dreamer. I really love my job. I'm not grinding my way through college anymore. I like where I live. I'm not living in squalor, over taken by boys in their early twenties. Things are going well besides the small fact that I don't have a dream that I am currently working towards. The PCT could be that next dream but I fear that leaving behind a great life at home makes it easier to quit. If there is little to go back to then there is no reason to leave the trail.

Do I wait until I am unhappy in life to hike again?

Do I prepare to leave in 2015 and see if I become unhappy?

Do I choose to hike despite loving my life at home?

Did my lack of connection to home really help me on the AT?

Did I simply not see my happiness before the AT? Or...

Did I walk myself right into a happiness while on the AT that I won't soon want to leave?

Thursday, July 10, 2014

My Greatest Sin

Throughout my life I have done many things that I should one day take stock of and ask forgiveness for. Sometimes, I think that time may never come and as I grow older I have become increasingly okay with this. But there is one sin of mine which weighs on me more heavily than the others, one so bad I must right it immediately. It is a heinous blemish to my otherwise reputable character. It holds me back from believing I am a beautiful person. I fear it has the power to wreck my life if I am unable to gain control of it.

My greatest sin is that I am not happy. 

Or grateful. Or satisfied. Or aware for that matter. Not enough, at least. I find gold and yet can only seem to complain that the bank is too far away. I am not unhappy. I am not ungrateful. I am not unsatisfied. I am not unaware. I am simply a typical human in this blight ridden world of 'me' that we live in and I deeply resent myself for it. 

To set the record straight, I am by all 'usual' accounts very happy. I enjoy my job more than I even would have thought was possible considering the meaning of the word job. I am lucky enough to have multiple life-spicing hobbies that give a higher purpose to my existence. The people I surround myself with are generally the type of people your mother was talking about when she told you "it takes all kinds", and I mean that in the best way it can be taken. I am doing well even measured against the typical American life. I am doing wonderful if you factor in the hardships of being born in so many other places of in the world. I am doing outstanding if you're the sort that believes that the energy that my body is made from could have just as easily ended up becoming a plankton instead of a human being born in America to middle class parents who raised her to make good enough choices to one day be living a happy life of her own. 

Yet still I complain about how far away the bank is from the location which I stumbled upon my pot of gold. Why? Why do I do myself the disservice of focusing on the negative? Why after all the good I have fallen into do I forget? Why I have been able to achieve and see and experience so much do I forget? Why can I not remember that the most beautiful part of life, the most satisfaction is in knowing contentment in the present moment? I don't know why I go on with this charade of needing things before they come in their due time. I will surely once again reach the high peaks of life, both literally atop the some vast mountain range and emotionally in the throws of celebrating the successes I will come across. If only I could teach myself to remain aware and satisfied in the mean time, grateful and happy with life as it is this very second. 

Maybe this will help.

10 Things That Made Me Happy Recently:
1. The shimmering reelection of the sun off of the creek onto the undersides of the leaves on the trees above. 
2. The early morning glow of the sun shinning on a man standing at a bus stop.
3. The blue sky reflecting off of the road after a summer shower.
4. A day full of small, yet meaningful connections with strangers. 
5. An evening sky displaying innumerable textures. 
6. A recognition of a job well done.
7. Finding a new band whose sounds and words resonated with my soul.
8. Having the courage and swallowing the pride needed to reconnect with a friend. 
9. Meeting a thru hiker (Denali) at work (aka REI) who is currently on the trail and the feather affixed into his hair.
10. Breaking a writer's block and producing a sliver of honesty.