I was telling a friend of mine that I feel like quitting at least once in every hike. Quitting this thing that I have to finish the AT. I remember when she spoke to me from the trail, when she was in a low spot mentally, and was thinking about quitting. BTW. I think that hiking the Appalachian Trail, from Georgia to Maine in 5 or 6 months, is one of the most grueling trudges anyone can attempt.
She said to me, “ That’s when you need to have a clearly defined “why.” A clearly defined “why.”
I had never heard anyone say that before, and trust me, I have listened to hundreds of motivational speeches by coaches over the years. No one ever said to me the I should have a clearly defined why.
So, I’m back on the Trail in Virginia for 5 days. I’ve been thinking about what she said off and on for 3 days now. I actually told this story to a young thru hiker this morning. He said to me, “Funny you should say that. I’ve been thinking about just that for much of this hike.”
He started the trail because a relationship had ended and he was changing jobs. It seemed like a good why to him, at the start, but he said he thinks his why will be quite different by the time he finishes.
I really liked this kid. I meet so many. His trail name was “Pugsley” like the Adams Family kid, because he wore striped shirts. I just looked at him. Didn’t fit this kid at all! He said he wasn’t sure he liked it very much, so I told him he could to change it. Choose one for yourself that suits you, it’s ok to do that. His whole face changed! Cool.
Trail names are a big part of the fun atmosphere on the trail. The names and how they got them is talked about so often. Some are really funny. “Special Ed,” is a Special Ed teacher retired. His real name is Ed. Some names have an interesting story like “Easy Pass.” I forget the story. Sorry. It was good. Some are motivational, like mine, “All In.” Some can be just what you feel like suits you. They are good, too. (I didn’t think this all up. The same advice was given to me!)
I was sorry to leave this guy, even after such a short time, getting to know him. That happens to me A LOT up here.
Sometimes you get to sit and eat dinner at a shelter with a bunch of new friends that just make you feel alive. Alive and well.
Isn’t that all we need to be, to have a great life on this planet, alive and well?
I think MY clearly defined why is beginning to taking shape. The people connections is definitely, a pretty big part of my “why.”
I’m going to keep thinking and writing about this. I want to finish the Appalachian Trail. I don’t want to NEED to finish anymore. I just WANT to. This is very different me. Good different. All In is becoming “Really Wanting to be In.” Not changing my name.
(except, I’m putting in a hyphen. I like the hyphen)