Bring it on

"Think what a great world revolution will take place when there are millions of guys all over the world with rucksacks on their backs tramping around the back country…."- Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums

Myself in third person

>> Monday, August 24, 2009

Today after an extended conversation about the Appalachian Trail, a woman with some great hiking plans reminded me that I still have passions. That I am passionate about discussing the details of what it takes to do some tough hiking. She helped me see that even though I am becoming a more responsible version of myself, I can still be all of those exciting things that I've been in my past too. And so it's true that each one of us contain a myriad of facets.

Amongst my parts, people know or have known me as (a condensed list of the past 29 years): a journalist, a poet, a sister, a lover, a coffee drinker, a friend, a former Queens dweller, a Phish tourer, a yearner for "back in the day," a daughter, an employee, a yoga enthusiast, a dungeons and dragons player, a letter writer, a road tripper, a teacher, a tattoo wearer, a vocalist, a foreign culture junkie, an anthropologist, a facebook junkie, a neighbor, an editor, bartender, a literature buff, a tenant, roller skater, a dinner party attender, an old college roommate, a polka dancer, a cousin, a book reviewer, an educator, foreign language dabbler, a mentor, a traffic dodging driver, a political activist, a late night couch sitter, a shopping buddy, video game challenger, a marching band nerd, a steak-lover, a world traveler, an ice cream devourer, a pianist, a theater actor, a vegetarian, a business casual wearer.... and a hiker.

I think of how each of my life experiences have contributed to creating these labels that contextualize me into a nice neat package for others to understand. While some, I don't even identify with anymore, each has definitely added its shaped who I have become and who I will be.

For example, I wasn't always a hiker. Much of my life, I didn't even like hiking. In fact, throughout high school, I wanted nothing to do with nature, tenting, wildlife, or the outdoors. Instead, I spent hours inside playing piano, singing, reading, writing poetry, and going to hardcore shows in my hippie skirts and birkenstocks. I had a car, why would I walk more than I had to, especially on a dirty trail with nasty bugs?

It was only until I went away to college in the middle of nowhere (kicking and screaming) that I really began to appreciate nature... of course, it wasn't instant attraction. I needed a little help from my friends to truly see the stars and sunsets, to smell the dew, to discuss deep intellectual matters, to marvel at the ordinary, and wade through the woods to hang out at the watertower, the benches near the music building, the park downtown, friends back porches, the old astronomy field on cardiac hill, the unlit dirt road off route six.

Sure these were nontraditional ways to explore nature but that curiosity combined with my flighty or fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants nature locked me into an agreement to hike the Appalachian Trail with scarcely any hiking experiences in my life (other than walking to/or around each of the places I mentioned above).

The thing is...Eventually, they lead me to a real appreciation of the nature around me and I did hike the AT. And I haven't stopped hiking yet.


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