Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Gratitude Revisited

The other day I found myself re-reading all of my posts from my hike.  One, in particular, stood out.  It was the very first one I wrote from the Trail itself.  I said that the overwhelming feeling on the Trail was gratitude.  I detailed several things that had happened for why I was so grateful.

Funny thing.  They were such LITTLE things.  Gloves. An offer of a slackpack (one that didn't pan out).  Finding shelter in snow.  Even now, they don't really SEEM like little things.  At the time, they were HUGE! Gloves may have been the difference between further nerve damage or not.  That's a lifetime consequence... not so little.  Being able to work at Len Foote Inn... my hiking partner, Yeti, was fighting illness and exhaustion.  Having that place could have been the difference between her continuing her hike or not even before she got to the actual Trail.  Or worse.  Again, not little.  

On the flip side, I could have been ungrateful about all the cold and snow we started in.  The fact that I needed to be concerned about nerve damage or hypothermia - well, that's a bummer.  Shouldn't I be focused on THOSE things instead?  But no, instead, I was grateful for the small things people could offer us to help.

It's hard to keep that focus here in frigid Wisconsin.  Believe me, I have tried.  But I find that I tend to focus more on what I do NOT have instead of the small things that are being provided.  I miss hiking.  I miss people.  I miss warmth and sunshine.  I miss not waking up to a window-full of the neighbor's house.  I miss the smell of my backpack straps (I know, that's disturbing).

I have spurts of gratefulness.  That's actually what prompted this blogpost.  I wanted to write about what I was so grateful for, even here in condo-land: my housemates, daily coffee, the freshly fallen snow, the fact that it was warmer on Sunday so I could hike with new people, the bread recipe my sister shared, lunch with my other sister.  

But, I must admit, it's harder here.  Not impossible.  And certainly something I need to continue working on.  But I'm not there yet.  I'm not your always-smiling-silver-lining-pointing kind of gal.  There's a lot more to take for granted here, and thus to complain about.  On the Trail, there were so few needs, but they were so apparent that it was easy to see when those needs got met.  Here my needs are less tangible, more complex, more spread out in several directions.  I don't always see them being met.  Or I take it for granted.  

It's strange how I can be so grateful one millisecond, and the next (and sometimes emotions can occupy the same mind at the same time), I'm all cynical-genX-snark.  Not sure how to cure myself of that other than to keep pointing my way back to gratitude when I see I'm not there.  

Yup, I know.  That's not much resolution for a blog post.  No lesson learned or something achieved.  But, that's what I got for you at the moment.  You're welcome ;-)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year's Resolutions

Well, 2013 is over.  There may yet be a few stragglers hoping to finish up their 2013 thru-hike of the AT - picking up the last sections they may have skipped over; however, for the most part, that is over.  The class of 2013 NOBO's is a thing of the past only to be remembered now in photos, new hikes, and reunions with fellow hiker trash.

There are many lessons I learned in 2013.  Many were ones I thought I knew and had to relearn, or learn at a new depth of understanding.  Some, I'm sure, will be forgotten and need to be relearned in upcoming years and hikes.

I learned that it's OK to just be me.  I don't HAVE to produce, achieve, or be special.  In fact, no one really cares if I am.  Those who do care, care about me just by me being me.

I learned a job is not where my security is.  Yes, I need money.  Yes, a job will achieve money.  But a job doesn't define me, it doesn't give me meaning or purpose, and no one really cares what I do, as long as I'm not a burden on them.  Those who do care, care about my being able to have a well-lived life with the comforts and work that is best for me.

Here.  Climb this.  For fun.
I learned that I like to work.  I used to think I was lazy because I hated the idea of going to a 9-5er.  I used to think I must not have a good work ethic or maybe I'm just hiding my "mooching" side of me because I wanted to do something other than have a "traditional" job.  I learned that I really LIKE to work.  I like to make things that help someone else.  I don't enjoy not having something to put my hand to.  I'm not lazy.  I just don't have to settle for the same work that most do.

I learned that I'm OK being by myself.  I had known that before, but I learned a new depth to that.  I learned how much I love being around people.  I knew that before too, but seeing this in a different capacity gave a new layer for me to noodle around.  I've learned that I need time to be by myself AND time to be social.  Newsflash:  I'm a social butterfly who likes vast amounts of time to myself.  Weird.  If you can figure out how to make that work in real life, you let me know.

So many more lessons, but I won't bore you.  But let's take a moment to look forward.  2014.  Now what?

Not to sound overly dramatic, but I think that I would be selling my soul if I were to go back to the "way things were" before last March.  If I just got myself a job, I wouldn't be honoring the lessons learned on the Trail.  I'd devalue both myself AND the Trail.  Sure, if my reserves get low enough, I know that I will need to just take whatever I need to for income.  Because I'm not a mooch, and I'm not lazy.  But... if I have the ability now to live on very little so that I can slowly create the income that I need to move toward the next path for my life, then... that's what I will need to do.

I'm trying to fit in to the mold I lived in before.  And everyone is noticing that that isn't working overly well.  A new mold needs to be built, and that takes time.  So, this mold of where I go, what I do with my free time, who I hang out with, what volunteer choices I make, etc etc.  All of those things are under scrutiny.   That's not to say I do not love and cherish the people and events from the previous mold.  Or that I won't somehow incorporate some of them into the new mold.

The new me emerging.
But things are a-changin'.  Out with the old.  In with the new.  Cherish the past. Look to the future.  Live in the present.

I'll keep you posted, but I think it's safe to assume things may be a-changin' on this posting as well.  The winds of change may be pointing toward another blog before too long.  I hope you will continue to follow my adventure.