Took the advanced hike today – on the legendary Appalachian Trail. It was very exciting! We came across a number of through hikers making the trek from Georgia to Maine and heard a little bit about their journeys, we saw breathtaking top-of-the-world views of the Delaware Water Gap clear across to NJ and NY, and we learned about a lot of plants and animals along the way from our guide.
I have to admit, for much of time, I wasn’t thinking about much more than keeping breathing, keeping climbing, and “when are we going to be done?” It was VERY challenging – an almost steady climb up 1,100 feet. And even though it was grueling, and I was dripping with sweat, and I couldn’t wait to be done with the climbing portion and get to the gentler walk down from the peak, I was SO proud of myself, so psyched about the phenomenal workout I had gotten, so glad to have been able to get a great workout in such beautiful surroundings, and I FELT VIRTUOUS.
But when I was thinking about something other than, “am I gonna make it?” what kept running through my mind was how the hike felt like a metaphor for all the things that are challenging to me.
It occurred to me that I had to decide exactly where to put my feet, how to get up the steeper inclines, whether to take fewer bigger steps up higher rocks, or to take more smaller steps that might take me a little longer to get to where I wanted to get, but not put as much strain on me in the process. In the case of the hike, the strain would be on my feet, legs, glutes, and my cardio-vascular system. In the metaphorical realm, it was all about paths of least resistance, about how life choices affect our personal life journeys.
Some of the statements that went through my mind included:
- It’s good to push yourself, to take a bigger step than you think you can, and you’ll see just how much you can do
- On the other hand, there is no shame in taking smaller steps to get where you’re going. No need to be a hero. You’ll get to your destination without as much wear and tear, and this is an honorable choice too
I wrestle every day with when and how much to push myself, when to take the faster but more challenging route, when to opt for a slower but easier path to where we’re going. So did I reach any conclusions out on today’s hike? No, but there’s always next week’s.