When my brother visited on Memorial Day we traded book titles with each other – what we’ve read, are reading, will read. Coincidentally we are both into the same genre – adventure non-fiction I suppose you would call it. I suggested my brother read “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed, her memoir of hiking the Pacific Coast Trail when she was in her early twenties and mourning the death of her mother and the loss of her marriage.
It’s been a while since I read it so bear with me, I don’t intend to review her book here. Besides being beautifully written I was, and am, impressed with the boldness of her decision. She naively likened hiking 1000+ miles over a three-month period to everyday walking; she walked all the time and waited tables too, more walking. I love that she didn’t doubt she could do this and do it alone, knew that she’d probably be changed forever after. She could barely lift her backpack at the start of her journey, hiked only a few miles those first few days and lost a hiking boot, then both, along the way but she kept moving forward, kept digging deep. She was upbeat and positive, she was frightened and awed, she was transformed. I admire her willingness to do something so scary, her drive and tenacity, her determination and chutzpah. Hiking the PCT is on my life list though I doubt I will ever have three months and the desire to hike it from one end to the other, but maybe. Maybe it’s best we don’t know what we’re getting ourselves into at times. Maybe it’s best to close our eyes, say a little prayer and jump. I love the idea yet hold back, dip my toe in the water instead of jumping in and risking a big belly flop. My adventures are planned around a block of vacation time from work, orchestrated for months and guaranteed to have a warm bed and hot shower at the end of each day. The warm bed and hot shower is arguably negotiable but there’s no arguing that work pays for the fun.
Another book I’ve read recently is “No Shortcuts to the Top” by Ed Viesturs about climbing the world’s fourteen highest peaks – without oxygen. Viesturs is more experienced, more prepared, more careful and has a crew with him but, again, the courage to climb is what speaks to me. The desire to accomplish a goal and pushing through the obstacles to achieve it. Climbing Mt Everest, K2 and the other peaks are not on my life list but pushing myself is. For some reason I am drawn to things physical right now in my life. It’s why I’m happily digging holes for shrubs and bushes, planting vegetables, helping Bill demo his bathroom and helping him renovate it too. There is satisfaction in seeing the outcome, the end result, a much smaller degree than climbing to the top of the world or hiking the bulk of the east coast, but satisfaction in a job well done, regardless. I’ll keep pushing myself, reading other people’s stories for inspiration and adding adventures to my life list.