I have a moment to muse! I haven’t posted much because I’ve been hiking; hiking and technology are incompatible for me. I have lots of funny stories, but for the moment I would like to acknowledge the most difficult part of the trail. Usually when people answer this question they name a place, The Great Smoky Mountains or claim that weather is the hardest part. Weather is in fact the most difficult factor in terms of making miles, but, for me, the hardest part is saying goodbye.
Every time I meet new people, make new friends, find happiness in good company…it ends. Everything ends. I think the sadness comes from a way of perceiving loss. There is a beginning, a middle and an end. We are taught this structure when we learn language. We think this way and when each story ends it feels like a death within life. Every time I lose a hiking family I feel this sort of loss and spend a good amount of time mourning (my real family is divorced so I probably feel this more intensely than other people).
I am re-thinking it all out of necessity. Otherwise my heart is going to turn cold and solitary. This distance from the social world is defensive, unhealthy and fearful. So a new sort of story is forming, it has no beginning, no ending, no middle, only now. A rigid life is one that moves towards death; it is mired by death and plans out every second; it pins time down and never lets go. I want to live in flux, but to do this I need to be flexible (yoga?).
I’m not going to say goodbye anymore, not going to mourn, not going to stomp off into the forest in coping.
I’m not going to hike my own hike because it was never just mine. None of this is mine. When people say hike your own hike it sounds heartless, selfish. It is more important to know what I want than to know what is going to happen. And whatever happens should always be…somehow…what I want. I think this has something to do with freedom.
I’m just going to walk and see what happens. Decision-less, hopeless, happy and always going somewhere. My desires don’t matter that much; what actually happens and what I do with that is what matters. This is how I will hike.
I told someone recently that getting to know one another on the trail isn’t rooted in telling stories about our past lives or chatting. We really get to know each other through action, through experiences on the trail. A story enacted is the root of knowledge. When I come to that last climb, I will need to remember this to survive my return to civilization.