One thing I'm looking forward to learning is how to be more present in my everyday life. So many times I think "OK what's next?" without taking the time to appreciate the moment I'm in now. In fact, I'm writing this out of that mentality. I'm sipping an incredible beer at an amazing brewery, yet I feel an urge drawing me out of fully enjoying this moment.
I feel like I need to do something to prepare for the adventure on which I'm about to embark. I should get mail drops ready, I need to get a gear list together for my blog, I need to write, I could do more research...
Sure, I need to be ready, but am I missing out on right now?
I don't think this mental clutter will simply dissolve into the ocean of time once I'm on the trail. Once I'm hiking, there will be, "Where's the next water source? When should I stop in town? Will I get to a camp site before dark? What will I eat for lunch? What will I eat for dinner? How do I get rid of this incredible BO?" Yea.
It's all important stuff, but I don't want to miss what's in front of me. I want to notice the beauty in the subtle and the small. I want to plot the meandering crawl of the homebound ant, to marvel at the architectural wonder of the spider's dew-dropped web, to fill my lungs with the perfumed seduction of the flower's fragrance.
I want to be here, alive and open to the wonder surrounding me.
I want to translate this into my everyday, "normal" life. I want to be absolutely present to appreciate the beauty and value in the people around me. My desire is to love strongly, but how can I do that if I allow myself to wander into the labyrinth of uncertain tomorrow? Learning to be more present may not come as easy as I would like, but I know the pace of life on the AT will be conducive to that learning experience.
As I hit save and schedule this post, Andy sits next to me. He asks if I've been here before and what I recommend. I offer my opinion, and we introduce ourselves. I notice he has an essay on John Steinbeck. I ask if he's into literature. (I happen to be quite fond of literature.)
"Yes! I am an aspiring writer." I learn Andy has worked with several online publications and zines.
He asks if I am local to the area. That's a tricky question as I'm about to head out for five months into the woods, so I inform him of my plans. We chat about that for a while.
Andy has good questions. He asks what luxury items I am taking ("My kindle and my tobacco pipe.") and what I plan to read.
The inevitable "Who's your favorite author?" question arises.
We discover we share the same favorite book and author (The Crossing by Cormac McCarthy). The bartender overhears us. She comments that she was once a professor of literature. She also once worked at a bar Cormac McCarthy used to frequent. I've never met anyone with the same favorite book as me. My head spins, attempting to fathom the odds.
Andy and I talk for close to an hour. We realize we have quite a bit in common. We finish our beers, pay our tabs, and walk out the door, our futures diverging. Our paths may never cross again, but this one encounter floors me.
Only a short hour ago I wrote, "I want to be here, alive and open to the wonder surrounding me...I want to be absolutely present to appreciate the beauty and value in the people around me." I had no idea how quickly I would have the opportunity to do just that.
I still can't get over this. I literally hit save at the exact moment Andy sat down! My conversation with Andy has shown me that I can learn to be more present in order to love more fully. And it's so beautiful! I know this lesson will only become more realized with the deliberate, slower pace of living that comes with five months on the AT, and this excites me to no end!
I would love to hear your thoughts on this. How do you deal with mental clutter, and how do you allow yourself to appreciating today for all it's worth?
I am a filmmaker. I am an adventurer. I believe in children. My friends are obsessed with my beard. I am obsessed with beer. I want to embrace and fully live this life I’m blessed with. I want to be known as someone who loves deeply.
On May 16, 2017 I set out on my dream, the adventure of a lifetime: a 2,189.8 mile trek of the Appalachian Trail. I want to push people to live their dreams and pursue their passions.