June 15th

Today I hiked 8.5 miles from my tent site to a spot next to Laurel Creek Bridge. The hiking has been difficult because the trail is climbing significantly on preparation for Mt Rodgers on the next few days, which is a 5,000+ foot mountain. I was feeling very poorly today, I’ll be honest it was the first time in a while that I was considering the thought of quitting early. I then realized that the climbing lately has been much more than I have been used to because the trail lately has been far more gradual than this. I’m looking at climbing in a way I haven’t really had to do for a while. With that in mind, I’m trying to be more forgiving of myself if I’m not getting the pace I have gotten used to, but I am going to still try to push myself to ensure good miles each day rather than succumbing to the temptation to lay about too much. There is a part of me that would love to take a few days easy here in the woods and read my books and sit next to the water. Especially since I’m getting closer to a national park, which means crowds and regulations again.

Today marks three months since I started my hike, and my mind has been going through a number of points as to what this means. First, at three months, I’ve been out for far longer than I think may have been expected when I set off. It’s strange to me to think back to Georgia and when I first set off seeming so long ago. I was thinking today how long ago even places like Franklin seemed, since I noticed my boots have some new holes in them. At first I thought it was strange since they’re my “new” boots, then I realized I’ve put several hundred miles on them. Second, I’m giving thought to what life post trail should look like. Do I go back to the same things I was doing before, but with new outlook? Or am I now looking at a completely different life? I know that I want to remain a more physically active person, especially with my weight loss. Things I always wanted to pick up as hobbies but I always thought I was “too fat” for, like kayaking or running, I now want to put into my regular routine. Hiking too will definitely take on a new place in my life, hoping to get more adventurous in my pursuits rather than simply sticking to small local parks.
I was listening earlier to a talk by Sir Ken Robinson, in which he was discussing his book “The Element.” He was talking about the importance of people working in their passions, finding the things that drive them. He repeated the old adage, “if you find a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” I’ve heard this said many many times before, but have generally laughed at it. While I’ve certainly had jobs that I enjoyed for what they were, these jobs usually paid incredibly poorly and required that I work a second job to cover the bills, or they had other aspects, such as office politics, that still made “work” miserable. But now I’m giving new consideration to this idea. I’m at a point in life where if I wanted to I could take steps to completely reinvent myself since I not only quit my job to come out here, I gave away most of my belongings and moved out of my apartment, placing what was left in storage. If I want to pick up and move, now is the time. I’ve also proved I can live on simply what’s on my back, so if I want to take a significantly lower paid job that I might actually love, I can have no fear of the loss. I simply need to determine what that will be. There’s another question for this as well. If I believe, as Robinson argues, that everyone needs to be “in their element” to work at their best, I need to ask not only “How can I be in my element?” but “how can I help others find and work in their element,especially those I’m directly responsible for developing?

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