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Appalachian Trail: the return

On Moxie Bald in Maine last June when the black flies were disinclined to give me a break for a selfie.

unrealized potential

Have you ever had that dream where you enter your house only to discover more rooms than you knew you had?

I love that dream.

It’s less about the size of our dream homes than about windows into our subconscious. This type of dream reveals unrealized potential and encourages us to claim that space and grow into all we hope we can be.

When I had this dream last night, my house was a fixer-upper and stuffed with stuff. I calculated that it would take months to sort through everything, but would be worth it because there were treasures buried beneath the heaps.

Can you say “metaphor for my life right now?”

back in the saddle

On Monday, I’ll fly back to Maine, get a ride to Caratunk and continue the Appalachian Trail where I left off.

My doctor gave me the all-clear adding that by carrying a backpack, I’ll decrease my risk of developing osteoporosis, one of the downsides of my cancer therapy

I’m all for decreasing risk.

While recovering, the first thing I did was walk, moving step-by-step to wholeness. In the hottest days of summer, I shuffled down the sidewalk, slowly increasing my distance from a half block to a dozen or so miles.

As my brother Andrew would say, “Blissful Hiker minds the gravitational pull of movement and nature” and walking is precisely what I’m built for.

But truly, it’s time to return, to see who I am now on trail and if my suspicions that I’ve changed for the better are correct.

get busy living or get busy dying

The other day, Bob Barker, the longtime host of “The Price is Right” died at the ripe old age of 99. When I mentioned this to my neighbor, she responded, “I thought he was already dead!”

Ugh, what a response. I’m not sure I want anyone to say that about me.

Though it’s hardly worth making a goal, wouldn’t it be interesting if rather than wondering if we were still alive when we leave this earth, we lived such big lives that people couldn’t believe we were gone?

That would be some declaration, a staking of a claim – like grabbing hold of all those newly revealed rooms and fully inhabiting them, living deliberately and audaciously.

I wouldn’t necessarily say returning to where I left off on the AT is audacious. Children, old people and everyone in between have hiked the Appalachian Trail.

Still, swallowing down the trauma of the past four months and taking that first step could be called daring.

And it’s not only about trying to salvage my summer hiking plans, for how do I know if the breast cancer trail won’t turn out to be a life-changing event?

Maybe this detour will send me on better paths and richer routes, and teach me to live with even more daring, zest, energy and unstoppable curiosity.

To quote T. S Eliot:

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive at the place where we started
And know it for the first time.
Brief and astonishing moments on one of my “training hikes” in a favorite park.

12 Responses

  1. Just wow, It’s amazing you are returning to the trail so soon.

    I hope all goes well, follow your heart that’s all we can do

  2. Al, I’m glad to see you back on the AT, continuing your healing one bad ass step at a time. I hope all continues well.

  3. I am amazed by you! I knew the day you said you had cancer that you would take it head on and you would win. You are a strong, inspiring and amazing. I wish we could have had one more sit down before the trail called you back! Sending love and strength with you on the trail.

    1. Thank you! It was so great to be with Kim and Hugh in Maine when I was diagnosed. They made me feel strong and brave – and a bit bad ass walking 150 miles of the AT before surgery haha! I so appreciate your support, Ron.

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