“If I only knew then what I know now”. What does that really mean, and would it even change who I am today? Would I really be any different? And would I still say that today, if I actually did know then what I know now? So what’s the point?
This year I will be turning 50, and what used to seem like a point in life that I considered to be old is now a point in my life that now feels like a rebirthing. A chance at a fresh start with 50 years of experience behind me. Some might call it having a midlife crisis, as I try to break from the day to day life that I’ve seemed to settle into. “Snap out of it”, “Get back to life”, some say. “You have a good career, stability, and a comfortable life, so what’s the problem?”
Trust me, my midlife crisis is far from going clubbing, social drama, snazzy clothes, fast cars, and staying out all night, partying to feed my ego. In fact, it’s completely on the other spectrum. I look forward to downsizing, simplifying, developing meaningful relationships, and fostering unconditional love. My midlife journey is about evolving into an enlightened person, as surely there’s more to life than just living comfortably. As a chronic overthinker, the struggle I deal with is more about the question, “when and what does that really look like?” Finding the answer has not been an easy task for me. To find balance, while dreaming big, and still trying to live in the daily life cycle has proved to be challenging, to say the least.
As we approach graduation season, I can only think of what it would have been like if I followed through on a dream I had back when I had my life ahead of me. After graduation from high school, the plan was to take a year off to explore the US with no real plan or time frame in place. Ultimately, under the pressure of societal norms, and the safe and normal path to “success”, I entered college not knowing who I really was, who I wanted to be, or what I even wanted to do.
With now almost 50 years behind me, I have finally learned who and what I want to be, and have daily visions of how I want to bring it all together. I’ve also made my intentions publicly known. A huge weight off my chest, no later than the spring of 2021, I will start my 2200 mile journey to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail from Springer Mountain, Georgia to the summit of Mt. Katahdin in Maine. The struggle I now face as an overthinker is how do I get to that day without wishing my time on this earth away until that long-awaited goal.
To truly be happy, one must learn to enjoy every day and live in the moment. This has been my challenge, but I will prevail. Hiking and weekend camping has provided me a release from the time rushing thoughts in my head, but yet the freedom of the trail also contributes to the incredible desire to do what I planned to do as a wide-eyed child, explore. So, for all of the youthful souls and dreamers on your 2018 AT thru-hike, I bid you safe travels and remember; “There’s no rush, enjoy what the trail offers, as you’ve got the rest of your lives to live comfortable”. That is what I know now. May the trail angels shine upon you. No pain, No Maine!