Monday, December 30, 2013

157. The Year You Hike Will be One of the Best Years of Your Life

Well folks, this is the last post before we give 2013 a proper hiker burial by digging a cat hole, dropping 2013 into it, and covering it with moss and dirt and stuff.


I wonder if I have changed.

I think that a lot of folks wonder about these sorts of things at the end of a year. We follow this Gregorian Calendar, a vague approximation of our understanding of time, and at some point the numbers have to start back over again at 1. Seconds, Minutes, Hours, Days, Weeks and Months are measurable mostly by the tilting and spinning of this tiny blue ball. We tilt toward the sun, we get summer. We tilt away and winter reigns. There's nothing we can do to change how time goes by, and yet at least once a year we wonder how time has changed the way we go by.

For all the other years of my life, at least since I learned how to get food successfully from a plate into my mouth and how to stop drooling all over myself, I quantified the change in me each year by specific events. I knew that I had changed because something had happened that was empirical evidence of lessons being learned. Reading my first book all by myself. Leaping off the sled at exactly the wrong moment and accidentally sending my father hurtling into an icy mud creek. Ending Elementary School and starting Middle School. Getting my first job. The first time I kissed someone. Standing up to that teacher who told me I wasn't allowed to hold hands with girls. Every year that was defined by completing another step in learning and education. Having a sudden and startling all-encompassing understanding of the theory of relativity. Realizing it was okay that I was completely incapable of ever explaining relativity to anyone else because I didn't actually understand it as well as I thought. Seeing my first Client as a full-fledged family therapist. Crying so profoundly that I couldn't remember if it was for joy or for loss.

But how am I supposed to summarize this year? A year that had staggering life lessons and realizations nearly every single day? A year in which I slept in at least 250 different places. I hadn't thought about the fact that my physical being has only been stationary for about a third of this entire year, but Whistle pointed it out. Sometimes people can identify change based on a physical move. Throughout my child and young adulthood I have technically lived in 15 different places. That is to say, the census bureau could say I lived there. But even 15 seems pretty small compared to 250. It's completely ridiculous. It's like comparing a baseball thrown at 90 miles an hour to an elephant launched out of a cannon at 90 miles an hour. Both would hurt pretty bad if they hit you in the head, but one is significantly higher on the danger index. On the plus side, being taken out by a high-velocity pachyderm wouldn't be the worst way to go.

Humanity has this amazing capacity for goodness. If that goodness is like the sun, then this year has ended with me basically sun-burned to the point of being a cooked turkey. The kindness and generosity of people has never been more evident to me than during my hike, and afterward. I love to write, but I wouldn't have been able to feel as inspired to continue writing if it weren't for you. I wouldn't have been able to continue hiking if it weren't for you.

Yeah, you.

Whoever you are, on the other side of this screen, reading these words, you have given me more than I can say. Maybe you're a member of my family, maybe you're a friend, maybe we met on the trail for only 5 minutes, or maybe we've never met at all. I am who I am because you kept me going. If I have changed this year for the better, it is because of you. Saying thank you isn't enough.

I think the best way to qualify, put together, summarize, squish, and otherwise wring all the excess words out, is to just put it like this:
First I learned I needed to breathe. And then I learned. And now I do it without noticing.

I loved you 2013. And if you've taught me anything, you've taught me that every single year from now on will be just as good, regardless of the adventures therein.

Clever Girl

(this is actually a photo from a few years ago,
but it seems like the right thing).


  1. Hey, Clever Girl: Happy New Year! “Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson. I think you and Dumptruck lived your trail journey in this fashion. Wondering if you met Chris Gallaway "Frost" on the trail? He started earlier so you may not have met him. Thought you might be interested in his film. It will be incredible.