There are four groups of people and four different philosophies for life, they all came to me the other day when I got away and just went into the woods and followed the Appalachian Trail (just me this time).
1. Those that never dare to enter; like those that coach from the sidelines this group never know what it is like to set foot on the journey. Yes, they never twist and ankle or are chased by a bear, but they never know how to push on through pain or think while on the run. This group of people donâ€™t like to take risks and see this kind of stuff as a waste of money. Their focus is safety, comfort, and security. Itâ€™s hard to live a fun life from the inside of a insulated cocoon.
2. Those that travel only a short way; they have the assumption and knowledge that you canâ€™t hike the whole trail in a single afternoon, so they only go into where the shadows begin and just enjoy where they are, thinking this is far enough. They think they are enjoying the moment more because they donâ€™t have to take as much stuff, itâ€™s not as difficult, and you donâ€™t sweat much. But from this vantage point there are no spectacular views, you can still hear the construction workerâ€™s hammers and the swish of traffic. You donâ€™t really get an appreciation for the â€œwoodsâ€ because you are still very close, too close.
Every group has â€œposers.â€ These are the people who stand close the adventurers and want to be considered one of them because they wear the same kind of shoes, or know the vernacular. But in the end their uniforms are bleach white because they have never been in the game. They are close to the action, but never in the action.
3. Those that walk to a point and turn back; This group has responsibilities and their burdens are heavier than the pack they carry. They know the joy of the journey but can only go so far in an afternoon. Their joy is what is to come (perhaps next time), and they push around one more bend in the trail, and push for a few more minutes. They dream of a day when they will be able to finish, when they will see it all. But it will have to wait until another day, work calls like the call of the wild and they go back.
The trail for them is a medicine that allows them to get away from it all and immerse themselves in things that are foreign to their everyday life. They can climb rock faces, sleep in a hammock, journal, or carve a stick â€“ just because they want to. This is a medicine for them that allows them to clear their head of the fog that is pushing down all around them.
4. Those that venture and traverse the whole trail; they see every overlook and endure the load of their pack for month after month until they see it all. These people are few in number because few can step away for such a long time (on average it takes 6 months), and have the ability to pay for this trip (on average it takes 3-6 thousand), or are willing to endure this way of life for such a long time. At the end they get a cheap patch (which I doubt many wear), but their character is stronger and they have faced down a giant. They are the courageous, the young at heart â€“ the zealous.
Which one are you?
Get out there; today go a little further than you did last time. Itâ€™s worth it. Iâ€™m in the third group. I love the trail, but I have responsibilities that come first. As my kids grow, we will go further and further and perhaps when they are older we will travel the entire length together (one can dream canâ€™t he)?