If you’ve been reading my posts, first of all, thank you. Second of all, you may have noticed that I tend to keep the mood fun and light. Well, I’m happy to say that my feelings are genuine, but I figured as long as I’m writing about my experience, I might as well dig a little deeper. And the truth of the matter is that I’m completely terrified. Please don’t interpret this to mean that I’m thru-hiking the A.T. as self punishment or anything. I’m super duper excited for the trail ahead, but I’m also mind numbingly scared.
I’m not afraid for my health or safety. I’m walking in the woods. What’s a little rain? Or dirt? Or even a nasty infection? I may not be completely ready now, but I will be in six months. So physical threats can only do some much to make me hesitate. Instead, I’m afraid of what I’m leaving behind.
See, I’ve done everything that I’m supposed to do. I went to college. I’ve supported myself with a full time job. I even completed my master’s degree. And don’t misunderstand: I did all these things for myself, not for anybody else’s gratification. These were challenges I wanted to overcome. And it’s unbelievable how lucky I am to even have had the chance to accomplish these goals. But now I’m done with each.
With my MBA in hand, I’m supposed to want to aim higher, climb the ladder, make more money. And as a woman nearing 30 years old (oh geez, there it is, the cause of all the hemming and hawing), I’m supposed to want stability, to settle down, a white picket fence. And it’s been a struggle (and the guilt! I can’t help it…guilt’s in the genes) to acknowledge that I don’t want those things, at least not now. I mean, sure, who doesn’t want more money? (I do! I do!) But to get there on the path I’m currently treading would be utter misery. My head’s not in the game.
I have moments where I play the “what if” game. It’s a fun game, really. Let me explain how it goes. What if I leave and then a great opportunity becomes available at work? What if I can never again find as great of a roommate (friend!) and apartment as I will be leaving behind? What if I miss important milestones in my family and friends’ lives? What if I’m on the trail and the world moves on?
But then I realize that the world will move on anyway (“Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.” How’s that for some soap opera throwback?). When the great opportunity doesn’t appear, I will resent my job. And when I live my life the way I want, I will be in a better place to celebrate the important milestones in my friends and family’s lives. Knowing this about me is probably the reason that the vast majority of my loved ones are encouraging me to go. (Either that or they just need a little break from Jor…now that I think of it, everyone seems to be a little too enthusiastic for my departure…)
So, in the wise words of Red (Morgan Freeman) from Shawshank Redemption, “Maybe it’s because I’m Irish.” (See, it’s funny because he’s actually African American, not Irish.) No, wait, that’s not right. Let me try again. In the wise words of Red from Shawshank Redemption, I can either “get busy living or get busy dying.” OK, well then, I’ll see you on the trail.