Some Good Things!

A few good things happened this past week to help start to turn the tide for me. On Tuesday, I did three hours of weeding for my friends, Charlie and Christine. (A couple of years ago, Charlie found some extremely cheap dirt at the recycling place and took it home to plant his garden with. It turned out that it was full of weed seeds and soon overtook their garden! When I saw the problem, I offered to weed it for them. Although this situation gave me a chance to make a few dollars and get back in touch with the earth, I would strongly recommend against planting with anything but good soil! It is too hard to separate the multitude of weeds from the good plants! They get too intermingled and there are far too many weed roots to eradicate!). It happened to be an unusually warm day, so I wore a short sleeved T-shirt and brought my rain jacket along just in case. After I finished, I asked Christine if she wanted to walk down to the beach. It had been awhile since we had gone down there together. The wind picked up and as the sun lowered in the sky, the temperature dropped dramatically. Although Christine was wearing a sweater, we were both cold, but I knew that Charlie would be coming down to meet us not long after and would bring Christine a jacket. We sat on a bench after Christine paused to see if a man who was trying to meditate would look at her before she started talking to him. (It is so hard for her not to interact with everyone she sees!) Christine had a contented look on her face. “Remember to breathe deeply” she said with a peaceful smile. Part of me was astonished at her words, while the other part agreed. Christine doesn’t do yoga, but this is exactly what one of my yoga teachers talked to me about before class on Monday. The week before, I had started and ended class in tears and then left the room immediately after class ended. This week, as soon as she came in, she crouched down next to me and asked me how I was doing. She told me to breathe.”This is why you practice yoga,” she said to me (when everything is difficult and the mind can’t find anything good to connect with). She wanted to see me take some deep breaths, but I am so good at holding my breath! When I finally let out a sigh, she said, “That’s good!”. “Do your best to not follow your thoughts during class. (Clearly something that I did not succeed at last week). Just breathe.”
And here Christine was, reminding me of the same thing! [Take it in, Wendy- the peace, the wholeness, the tranquility]. She also said, “I liked you from the first time that I met you.” I told her I did, too, and that she makes me happy. She is always concerned about the comfort level of anyone around her and goes out of her way to make sure that she greets and connects with everyone who comes into her path. A Chinese woman pulled up into the parking lot, and as soon as she got out of her car, Christine said to her, “Oh! You don’t have a hat! Here, take mine! Would you like to sit with us?”. The woman said that she wanted to walk far down the beach, but thanked her. “Charlie always asks me why I talk to everyone, but that’s ME” she explained. She is delighted by children, flowers, seashells, feathers, the sight of planes, and the sound of birds. “Does anyone in your family like feathers?” she asked as she picked one up from the sand.
“I do,” I reply.
We met Charlie and I got invited into the backseat of the car. “Oh, no. It’s okay. I’ll just walk home.”
“Get in”. We sat for awhile, looking at the ocean, watching the planes begin their descent toward Boston, and talking about the large decaying seal I found washed up on the beach the other day, about the migration patterns of the sandpipers, and about how time seems to go by increasingly faster the older we get. Finally, Christine said to Charlie that she would like some wine. “I brought some, but I was thinking… We should have dinner at Latitude 43 tonight…”
“Wendy, you can come with us”. (!!!)
“Really?”. I don’t know what provoked this good mood, but this was exciting! It was my second time going to a restaurant since the end of the PCT and it happened to be the same one that I went to in May when I visited my friend Jacqui. We had sushi that night and it was SO good! Charlie had heard that this restaurant had excellent fish cakes, and for some reason, tonight was the night he felt like trying them! So, in my dirty jeans, worn out Washington PCT shoes, and my thin rain jacket, we took a drive. I fretted about the things I wouldn’t be able to eat as this was my second gluten-free day. Sushi was out because of the rice. I didn’t even have a bite of the bread they offered before the meal. I had a nice piece of salmon with greens and tomatoes and a glass of the same white wine that Charlie and Christine had. It turned out that this restaurant never offered fish cakes, but Charlie found a nice scallop dish instead. During dinner, I learned that Charlie had attended the same private high school that my father had taught at from the time I was 11 to 17. I lived on the same campus that he had also spent 4 years living on! I also learned that Christine used to work at an art gallery in downtown Boston. Every time that any person who worked in the restaurant passed by our table, she would stop them and tell them what a wonderful time she was having and that this was her first time here. It was obviously something that they were not accustomed to hearing after being pulled aside. I have seen her small gestures of kindness light up the faces of so many people and every time I see her do this, I understand that she is my teacher. The effect we can have on one another is tremendous.
When the waitress came by to ask if we wanted dessert, I was very surprised (even elated!) that Charlie asked for the menu! In my experience, men always turn down dessert and just want to go home! Again, I thought I would have to forgo dessert because of the gluten, but the chocolate cake happened to be gluten free! And what a chocolate cake it was!
(Okay, maybe gluten free is not so bad after all!! [Sugar, dairy, and coffee-free is another story…]. I took a picture of my dessert and one of the waiters came by and said he would take our picture together. Charlie said he could take one of me and Christine. Even though Christine and I weren’t prepared to go out, and would have liked to look a bit nicer, we felt so happy on the inside!
Christine thanked Charlie numerous times throughout dinner for taking us there. I still feel thankful for this experience, as well!

I also received a care package this week (again, something that I haven’t received since the PCT)! My friend, Weeds, posted on Facebook that she had a beautiful magic wand made of copper and crystals that she had inherited from the passing of her dear mother this summer, and that she wanted to let someone else have. I saw this very soon after she posted it and thought that I could use a magic wand (especially at this time!) and that it would be nice to have something physical to be connected with Weeds and her mom. (I didn’t inherit a single item from the passing of my own mother). At the same time, I hesitated for a moment- I didn’t really need to add anything else to the possessions I already have. I ended up writing to tell her I would take it if she could mail it to me. She wrote back and told me that she would LOVE for me to have it! A few days later, she told me that she spontaneously decided to throw a few other things in there for me- a full fledged care package! So exciting! I received it on Friday and what she wrote on the box alone made me feel so happy!

The first thing that I pulled out was a book about journaling and its connection to spiritual life! So perfect for me! And then, I found the magical lightweight paper journal that may very well only be found in Sedona, Arizona! Weeds had a full sized journal that she carried in her backpack for the duration of her PCT thru-hike, but weighed next to nothing! I was in awe and during my hike, asked on Facebook that if anyone found one, they could send one to me. One friend looked, but couldn’t find anything. I did some research on the internet when I got home and couldn’t find anything, either! And now, I was holding one in my hands! She also sent me some Indian pouches with a few special stones and crystals, and someone’s personal artistic journal! A secret world! This person dedicated her journal to “love” and as I read through it, I discovered that whoever wrote it is a lot like me!
Thank you so much, dear Weeds!! I will never forget how she made tea for me in Kennedy Meadows when my stomach was extremely inflamed and in pain and all I could do was lie down. And I won’t forget these gifts ever, either! Weeds is such a clever, wise, and humorous lady, and I am so glad our paths crossed on the PCT!

I also discovered that I permanently lost a lot of my personal photos last month when I tried to transfer them to my “Time Capsule” because my hard drive was too full. While this is not a happy event (another thing to add to the list of all that happened in September), I am proud of my reaction to this loss. Years ago, I would have gotten very, very upset about this. Now, I am much more calm about losses. It was a day that I had to teach yoga in Cambridge, drive home to go to the dentist, and then get ready to drive to another talk. Somewhere in that time frame, I discovered that my hard drive had only 4 Gbytes of space on it! And my computer was not allowing me to transfer my Quicktime version of my slideshow onto the flash drive I had bought for that purpose! I had to quickly get a lot of stuff off my hardrive. After transferring a lot of photos to my Time Capsule, I deleted them from my computer. Last night, I discovered that the transfer did not work and that only empty folders and blank images exist! (Are you kidding me??) I searched my hard drive for copies, but found no trace of these important photos from my time in Switzerland, on the Colorado Trail, pictures that I got from Truckin’ and a lot of other things that had tremendous value to me). The older I get, the more I realize that you can’t hold onto everything. Life is a process of letting go. And there is great strength in this process. I firmly understand that I have a large data problem that I must act on to find a storage solution for as soon as possible, and while it is upsetting that I will never be able to view these photos again, it is something that I have no control over and must move on from. I have other pictures and other memories.

This afternoon, I gave my 15th presentation, and although it was a fairly small audience (I wish I had more input in the publicity part of my talks!), they were extremely interested in my experiences. It was one of my best deliveries so far and they asked questions for over an hour! I am now excited to give my presentation at my home yoga studio this Wednesday night! Onwards and upwards!

Oh- and I will get to see the Dalai Lama for the first time (for several hours!) at the end of next week!


Yoga Joes-I love this!

I recently came across this article, and at first glance, I admit that I wasn’t very taken. Maybe it was because I don’t find G.I. Joe action figures so relate-able to my life in the first place. Even when I saw the photo of one of these figures standing in tree pose, I assumed that it was a woman who wanted to turn these war figurines into something more peaceful. I hesitated on whether or not I wanted to take the time to read the article. For some reason, I did open it up, and with every sentence that I read, I grew more and more interested! Perhaps the most surprising and exciting piece of this article (to me), was that this idea was a man’s- one who had spent an incredible amount of hours trying to change the shapes of these figurines, encountering failure after failure, but each time, seeking out a new method to make his vision a reality. As I read through the article, the brilliance of his idea, layered with so many levels of meaning, seeped into me. Imagine a world in which people didn’t seek to destroy each other, but practiced peace instead. What if children were introduced to the idea of embodiment, of directing the shape of their lives and finding the calm within themselves despite the turbulence around them? What if all people who serve or have served in the military had access to yoga classes which could help them deal with post traumatic stress disorder and the myriad effects of combat? (Did you know that we lose a veteran to suicide every HOUR?!).
I love the hopeful message that this product sends out to the world, but what I find even more inspiring than the end result is the dedication that this man put into this project despite the many obstacles and lack of support received during the process. It’s hard not to feel excited when someone pours their heart and soul into a project that makes the world a better place, and in the end becomes successful! This story serves as a wonderful reminder that we must stick to our own paths and trust our own intuition, no matter what anyone around us says. This is what the world truly needs. What if we all followed our own hearts’ desires and used our unique gifts to better the world we live in? Like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, with our own strengths and qualities, we each play an important role and fit together into the workings of a bigger picture. What if instead of dashing one another’s hopes and dreams (something that can only come from a place of one’s own insecurity and lack of fulfillment), we inspired and helped each other succeed at the things that light us up and serve the greater good at the same time? This example shows us what the outcome can be.

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Mercury Retrograde

I’ve never paid much attention to astrology, other than being astounded at how perfectly my sign description matches me, but after hearing a couple of mentions about how other people have been struggling recently, as well, and how they were attributing it to the mercury retrograde, I decided to read the following article and see what they were referring to.

Hmmm… Maybe there is something to this astrology stuff! And maybe this explains a lot of what I have been going through recently! Aside from the obvious struggles, this article mentions technology difficulties being common during this period, which I have definitely had my share of! On the 28th of September, I gave my talk in another town south of Boston. After setting up my laptop and projector, which projected just fine on the screen, I left the room only to return to a blinking light on the screen! I noticed the blue light of the projector was also blinking on and off. I tried tightening the connections on both the projector and my laptop, but nothing changed. When I told the librarian, she was not pleased! She wanted nothing to do with the set up and had the IT person do everything beforehand, calling me to make sure it would all work. When I told her it was working earlier but now wasn’t, she threw up her hands, sighed, and assumed it was my computer. A man in the audience said I should restart my laptop, and even though I did, I said I was pretty sure that it was the projector because that was the thing that was blinking. Since no one was offering to help resolve the problem, and the librarian seemed anxious to start, I ended up offering to turn my laptop around so the audience could get a small view of my photos. (I had wondered when that was going to happen!). It turned out that this library had the best sound system of any of the ones I have been to so far, but my pictures could barely be seen. Still, some of the audience members commended me for how I responded to the situation. At this point, I have been confronted with just about every malfunction possible! Luckily, my car manged the drive home!

Last Monday night, the technology problems slipped into my dreams. I had a vivid nightmare about my iMovie program being completely eliminated from my computer, and somehow, my Quicktime back up of my slideshow disappeared as well! I had to give a talk on Wednesday and this nightmare was still in my head at the time. I wasn’t sure if my computer would be functioning at all for that talk as I drove to that town. Luckily, it was.

This past Monday was just a rough day, overall. The unraveling continued and I just had to allow it all to bottom out. Ever since I first envisioned putting a presentation together, I imagined that I could give it in the yoga studio that I attend. Since most of the things I learned on my PCT (and other) long hikes are the same things that we learn in our yoga practice, because I have been a loyal member of this community for more than three years now (buying yearly memberships, receiving my teacher training from them, attending every possible workshop when I had a job), and because some of the music and a few of the things I say in my talk were inspired by my teachers there, I thought it would be a natural place to give it. However, I have also always felt that the owners pick their favorite students who they shower with support and opportunities, and leave the rest of us aside to struggle on our own. I am one of those cast aside. So, while I mentioned a few times to one of the owners about the possibility of me giving my presentation there and how many of the things I mention in my presentation were inspired by him, there was never any real talk of setting something up. Several of my peers have been interested in hearing my talk ever since I first gave it, but have not been willing to drive to other towns to hear it. They said they would go if my talk was held in Boston. Finally, one of the regulars asked the owner if I could present there a few weeks ago. He agreed and when he saw me before class that evening told me to pick a date! I was so excited! Finally, it was happening! About a week later, we decided on a Wednesday night, after his class, when one of the rooms was free. He asked me for a description and photos, which I reminded him I had already sent. “Okay, this should go out on Monday” (meaning he would sent a notice about it in one of their e-mail newsletters). Nothing went out, which wasn’t unexpected.
The following week, I got an e-mail from the manager, telling me that he was left with the job of publicizing this event and wanted to know why we had picked the certain date. He replied several days later, telling me that he would let people who are around on Wednesday nights know about it as the date got closer. I was so confused! This was not meant for people who are “around” on Wednesday nights. I wanted to invite everyone!
The following week, I got an e-mail from the owner who I was originally working with, now backing out of helping me advertise at all! He said he thought I wanted public space to show my pictures to my friends. (???) He also said that he and his co-owner (the two people who I took my teacher training with and who I continue to take classes with to this day) don’t even know what is in my talk. I was stunned. Since April, I have been posting comments I have received from people who have seen my talk, publicizing when my next talks are, etc. He knew I have been giving this presentation at other places. If I wanted to show my friends my pictures, I could do that in my apartment! And by saying that he doesn’t know what is in my talk, he is telling me that he does not believe in me or support me. (If he wanted to know, he could just ask me or ask any number of people who have seen it). I felt like I should just cancel the event and just go where I am wanted.
Because I had talks the past 2 Mondays, I hadn’t been to my studio in two weeks. This would be the first time I would see my teacher after he sent me that e-mail. Although I had sent them a flier for my talk, they wouldn’t even hang one up for me. When I reached the third floor where my class was, the other owner was posting fliers. “Can I hang my flier up?” I asked him, realizing the timing was perfect.
“Ummm…. I have two more to go… I have to advertise these events.” He didn’t even look at me.
My hurt feelings only increased. I couldn’t hold in my tears before the start of my first class. If the leaders of my “tribe” aren’t supportive of me, who is? My teacher said she was glad that I was there when she saw how I was feeling and then, “It’s good to be here!”. I shook my head. No, it’s not. When the class ended, the tears were still flowing. One class wasn’t enough to break me out of my feelings. I had to decide whether to take the next class with the owner or not. I did stay, and although I was in no mood to laugh at his jokes, I did feel a bit better at the end of class.

After going back and forth on whether to just forgo giving my talk there or doing all of the advertising myself, I decided to go ahead with it. Part of me hopes that I can get my biggest audience yet, while part of me is worried that these people won’t be comfortable (or forewarned) that they are going to have to sit on the floor. And maybe my photos won’t even show up on the wall. It’s been hard to get friends to even share the event info or invite their friends. So much resistance! I did do a bit of outside advertising, but I have no idea how many people intend to show up. All I can do is put some positive energy out there and hope people will want to come.

P.S. I got an e-mail from one of my yoga friends last night, replying to my invitation for my talk at the studio. She wrote back, saying that she had been in the ICU for the past week, as her beloved sister was hit by a truck while bicycling home. This news snapped me out of my little problems and immediately brought everything back into perspective. I felt both heartbroken and angry. Nothing else mattered. Please send love to my friend Ina and her critically injured sister, Maria. They are both sparks of light in this world.

Updates (10/13/14):

I had a brief talk with the owner of the studio tonight and expressed how I have been feeling about his lack of support. The conclusion was that if enough people say they loved my presentation after I give it there the first time, he will let me give it again in the future and stand behind me next time.

And Ina’s sister was transferred out of the ICU today!

The Turmoil Heightens

I had hoped that by October, the turbulation of September would have quieted and the new month would bring a sense of peace and calm. So far, the exact opposite has happened! I tried to make it through my week of teaching yoga in Cambridge and traveling to three scheduled talks with my worn down brakes and leaking exhaust system before I had an entire day to get my car fixed, but just after I left my talk that Tuesday night, my check engine light came on while driving home. This scared me and I didn’t feel safe driving it into Cambridge the next day. I brought my car to my mechanic first thing in the morning, but he said he was too busy to look at it until the afternoon. I had to cancel my two yoga classes in Cambridge that day. By the end of the day, I had not heard anything from my mechanic, nor did I hear anything Thursday morning. Therefore, I had to cancel two more classes that day. When I went over to see if he had had a chance to look at it, he said that the oxygen sensor was going off, most likely due to the exhaust leak. I confirmed that I would bring it back the following day to get it fixed, as I had originally scheduled. He shook his head and said, “next week.” He had given my appointment away because he was “waiting to hear back from me.” I stood there in disbelief. I was the one waiting for him to let me know if it was safe to drive or not! I just cancelled the bulk of my income for that week waiting for him and now I was back in the same position of needing to drive it at least 12 hours to teach and present before I had a day to leave it with him again. And now the check engine light was on in addition to the other problems that he said were unsafe to drive with on Monday! (at least this big problem put my computer problems into perspective!)
After a couple of days, I decided that if my car could get through the four hours of highway driving that I needed on Monday, I could cancel my Tuesday yoga class and get the work done then. This fifth and biggest repair meant that all of my income from this year (literally the entire amount) has gone into car repairs and gas for my car. (!!) I had known all along that driving into Cambridge to teach yoga was completely unsustainable, but these numbers made this fact crystal clear. Not only did I not make any money doing this for the past four months, I lost money doing it! (And the same for my talks).

I’ve also been greatly struggling with my health in a number of ways. I went to the eye doctor two weeks ago so that I could order new contacts, and in the two previous days of that appointment, I started to lose my vision. She asked me which was the lowest row I could read with my glasses and I couldn’t even make out the top row at all! Without my glasses, my eyes kept fogging up. “My eyes… I can’t see!”. She told me that I have holes in my corneas. I have been struggling with extreme dryness and pain in my eyes since I finished the PCT (as well as several times before). I have also made no improvements in my intestinal problems and this sickness has resulted in major skin issues. I recently did some research and discovered that my intestinal linings have holes in them, meaning that toxins leak into my bloodstream instead of being eliminated as waste. I won’t go into detail, but the result is clearly visible in my face! In the year since I finished the PCT, there hasn’t been one day that I would be okay with someone taking my picture. I have had a lot of opportunity to practice the thought, “I am not my body. I am not my appearance. I am so much more than that” before every talk that I have given because of it. There have been so many days where I have felt I can’t even walk down the street to get a cup of coffee because of how I look. I am so tired of this! The infections from the PCT have turned into an auto-immune disease!
I fear that I am going to have to eliminate all sugar, gluten, dairy, and coffee from my diet in hopes of having a chance to repair this damage and I have no idea how I will possibly be able to manage this. I can’t stand the thought of never being able to eat all of the things that I enjoy!

After I got my car fixed this week, I finally had the chance to drive up to the White Mountains for my second hike of the year. My intestines were hurting again. I think they don’t like it when I have to get up at 5am, because I ate the same breakfast that I always do (just like on the day I drove up to Pinkham Notch in August!). I managed to make it through the hike, but it was hard! I felt like I am not built for hiking at all! I am so slow on the downhills! My face looked awful, my intestines hurt, and my nose wouldn’t stop running on the way down. When I got into town to get some dinner (the same place that I stopped at on my AT hike five years ago before staying at Chet’s hostel!), I discovered that the wellness manager at the Cambridge Health Alliance cut four of my six yoga classes per week starting on Monday (due to lack of attendance and lack of rooms to hold the classes in). I couldn’t believe it! I was the one who had asked several times if the schedule for October would remain the same in the past couple of weeks (and got no answer) and informed her that there was nothing scheduled in the system beyond October 2nd. She had no idea… And this is how I was thanked? For some unknown reason, she is keeping the class that has had zero students in the entire 4+ months it has been offered. In an instant, the majority of my monthly income that I had planned on receiving was erased! Why are employees required to give at least 2 weeks of notice to their employers before leaving, but employers can cut the bulk of an employees hours with no notice?
I felt so drained on the drive home that I almost had trouble staying awake. I also couldn’t see the road very well! It was too dark and I had trouble finding the off ramps. When I got home, I checked my headlights and discovered one was out! So only a few days later and I have to go back and spend even more money to get another part fixed! (You have got to be kidding me! This would almost be funny… but it isn’t). By the time I got inside, I didn’t even have the energy to get undressed and crawl into my bed. I just slept on my couch in my hiking clothes for awhile. The next day, I couldn’t see at all. My eyes didn’t like me wearing contacts for 16 hours! I couldn’t see the computer screen well enough to type anything. And although my legs weren’t as sore as after climbing Mt. Washington, my body was extremely tired and I was having a hard time recovering.

On this earthly plane, everything seems to be unravelling greatly for me. On a physical and financial level, I am doing very poorly. The universe has made it clear that I can’t keep commuting to Cambridge to teach for a system that can’t retain students. I know that I have to find clients in my own neighborhood. I’ve known this for a long time, but am still struggling with how I can bridge this divide. As of the past couple of weeks, I have two people who are verbally interested in lessons, but no definite scheduling, which I really need.
Despite all of these problems, I feel strong on a spiritual level. There are days that I feel overwhelmed with the stress, but on other days, I feel perfectly calm. From all of the comments that I have received through teaching yoga to a wide array of students and from the presentations that I have given, I know that I am doing what I should be. I am making a positive impact on people and I am creating a path for myself out of thin air. I have given 13 presentations so far and have 17 more scheduled over the next 6 months. 30 presentations, all through my own efforts, is pretty significant. I envisioned the idea just over a year ago, put several months of work into it, and spent several more months seeking venues to present to. I still have more work to do in trying to unravel resistance that I am currently being met with in finding other venues than libraries, but I remain hopeful for more opportunity in this area in the future. For now, I have accepted that I need this current unraveling to bottom out and then I can start climbing my way up again.

I am grateful for the success I have had, for yoga teachers who place their hand on my sternum when I mention all that is going wrong to remind me that all of those things are out of my control and that I can still tap into the peace and strength that reside within my being, for being able to walk to the ocean, and for being reminded of things like this:

The recent showdown between My Ego and Being:

by yoga teacher Kevan Gale

“Ego: Things will be really good when this happens, or when that challenge is behind me and when I have a little more…
Being: Stop complaining you ungrateful jerk. Don’t your realize how amazing life is?
E: Yah, it is pretty good…but sometimes I feel like things could be better?
B: Better, did you just say better? Are you kidding me? Do you know what it is like for most of humanity? Let me tell you…at least 80% of humanity lives on less than $10 a day, while one in three on less than $1 a day. War, disease and famine are so rampant that 21,000 children will die today. And you want more?
E: I get that but I just thought it would be fun if we had a little more of this or that. Think of what it would be like if we won the lottery.
B: We? Don’t bring me into this. Listen kid, you go to bed with a full belly, you have loving friends and family, you’re healthy and alive…you already won the lottery.
E: Okay you are starting to make sense, tell me more.
B: You just happen to live on a tiny planet that supports life in an extremely vast universe. You should be grateful just to have the ability to contemplate your own existence. When’s the last time you really enjoyed the rarity of life? Have you smelled the air, tasted the fruit, felt the breeze and heard the concert of life you get to enjoy everyday?
E: No, not really. What else?
B: Your life is short, very short. In fact, when compared to the cosmic calendar you are a blink of an eye, literally 1/4th of a second.
E: That’s so depressing. Why are you so morbid?
B: Don’t view it as depressing, view it as an opportunity. You have an opportunity to live fully NOW.
E: How can I change?
B: You can stop wasting your time thinking about all the things that don’t really matter and let me do more experiencing. You can stop accepting negativity and get out of my way so I can love, laugh and live.
E: Okay but what happens to me?
B: Don’t fear, over time you’ll begin to understand the futility in your attempt to be “I” and you’ll rejoice in the enormity of “We”.”

It will all be okay. It has to.

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Ned Tibbets on the Significance of a Long Hike

Ned Tibbets, the super hero of the PCT (having hiked it in 1974 at the age of 17 and since dedicating his life to teaching mountain safety skills to others, as well as rescuing them from disastrous situations on the mountains), posted the following piece on the significance of a long hike and what is truly meaningful in a life recently. It strongly resonates with the things that I speak about in my presentation, as well as how I am re-examining the course of my life after having had these experiences.

“When we are young, energy is bursting, the night never ends, the world is at your fingertips, and nothing seems impossible. It is easy to get involved in challenges, physical or intellectual, and miss what is so much more important in life.

What that is to you or me may be different and that is ok. In the end, whether that is at the end of the trail or of life, what is missed are the relationships, the passionate expressions of the heart, the different personalities, and believe it or not, the fears, the joys, and the tears.

Hiking is not about the miles. At least for me, it is about the shared experiences, good and bad, dangerous or lazy, filled with laughter or sadness. When we look back at whether we had a good journey, what fills our memories the deepest are not whether we made it from Point A to Point B but who we shared it with.

If you are alone in the wilderness, your relationship is with your Self and God. What He whispers to you will change your life, once you can hear Him. The longer you can stay out with Him, the deeper wrought is the change. If you can set aside enough time in your life to accomplish a Pacific Crest Trail thru-hike, don’t expect to come out the other end the same as you went in. You will learn about life, yours and His, and this will hit you on the head like a 2×4 upon “re-entry.”

Then, it will be up to you to decide whether to keep the revelation and relationship or let it go, to dissolve back into society and forget unto busyness the best friend you could ever have. Physical and intellectual attainments in life are great, but they are only on the surface and do not touch the heart, the spirit of life. Pursuing life means choosing to eject the superficial and dive into the deep waters of the heart, to discover what really matters to the part of our lives that lives forever and touches everyone we meet.

So, we hope that you, upon reaching the end of your trail, you can feel this change within you, working in your members, alive and rejoicing, and decide that it is more “real” and important to you, your very “life’s breath,” for with it you have been talking, listening, and responding sun-up to sun-down for all your on-trail days.

This is what the long-trail can do for you. It can bring healing and great joy, but you’ve got to make that first step fully prepared for all the “realities of the trail,” intending to go all the way, come what may. Then, relax, listen, and share! Time slips away, but things heart-felt and touches of the Spirit are never forgotten. Reach for these! They will be like a companion that never leaves….”

-Ned Tibbets