Not Your Typical COVID-19 Response

Let me first, and most importantly, start out by saying, I hope everyone is doing well, staying safe, and being kind to one another.  I haven’t written in a while, though honestly, I have a lot to write about. However, I was a recipient of some not so nice comments in response to a story that I posted in the AT Class of 2020 FaceBook group page. One of the comments that were made was, “wah, wah, wah, so you can’t hike, do you know that people are dying.”  It stopped me in my tracks when I read it. It frankly stopped a lot of things, it changed me in a way that I started second-guessing “MY” story. Was I selfish to continue to write about a dream during these trying times? Was I wrong to speak about my feelings of something other than what was happening during this pandemic? Was I being an inconsiderate asshole and a big baby…? 

Now, mind you that comments were made in a specific closed group. A group that only has one focus, one specific task, one dream, to some, of many years, which is Thru-hiking the AT in 2020.  Of course, most of us in this group know that not being able to follow this dream this year doesn’t even compare to the real-world tragedy that is Covid-19. However, this is a closed group, a safe place for us to talk about our setbacks and allow us space to “yes” wallow.  To express ourselves in a way that is not disrespectful to those who lost their lives, lost their jobs, and those risking their lives every day so that we can do our part and stay home. So was it wrong for me to have remorse for a dream that I had been chasing?  

To make this part short, I tried to reach out to these folks, as I wanted to actually call them to discuss my post, but the moderator of the group removed the comments and barred these people from the group.  But honestly, it was too late already, the damage to my heart was done. Words really do hurt, especially words without understanding. My dream to thru-hike and to search for hope and peace for a kinder world was shattered into a million pieces, stomped into the ground and spit on by people who don’t even know me. Or, even wanted to take the time to get to know me.  Maybe it was just me, maybe I shouldn’t let a comment bring me down. But it did, and I lost hope. My upcoming thru-hike was to do just the opposite, it was a way for me to restore hope, compassion, and to rediscover and grow my faith in humankind. I get it, “yes” people are dying, but I also feel that it’s “ok” for us to all have an outlet to the events lost that we all hold dear to our lives. A safe place to be able to grieve over personal events, while knowing that “yes” these are first world problems. 

Thank you to all of the heroes seen and not seen in this fight against COVID-19.  My heart truly hurts for those who lost loved ones, friends, coworkers, as one life lost is too many.  To those who have lost their jobs, struggling to pay bills, pay for food, and to make ends meet but please believe in America strong. We still have each other to lean on and we still have the support of our neighbors and our communities during these trying times.  There is no shame in asking for help, no shame in taking it if you need it, no judgment, no questions. It’s “ok” because when this is all over, we all know that you’ll give back to the world with gratitude, love, and compassion to humankind.

So, going forward I will write and it’s your choice to read it or not.  Just please understand that my heart in regards to our current world situation hurts just as deep as yours does…But it’s “ok” to discuss the suck and to also dream again. Because if we can’t do this in a safe place free of judgment, we will not grow and we’ll never Be_again.  With all my love ~ Purpose 



  1. You have every right to feel the way you do. I have had negative comments as well. I think people that do this are just out to hurt you and unfortunately they do. I also think it has little to do with you and more to do with them. Like the grade school bullies!! Keep writing!! Keep being you!! We all know that people are dying during this crisis, that is a given, but we all have our own sacrifices that are hurting us deep inside too. Venting and talking about our losses is a healthy and normal way to cope! Stay safe!!!!!


  2. Mark,
    Please keep up the comments. I watch everyday for your posts. I am happy that you have found something that means this much to you and that you are in a position to see out that dream.
    No matter what we do in our lives there will be people that believe that their opinions are the only ones that matter (I am soccer referee – I hear it all the time). Block them out they don’t deserve your time.
    Those that know you, your family and friends, know that you are truly a wonderful human being that would go to extremes to help another person if you we able.
    You are blessed with a great family and friend group. We are pulling for you – and even living a little vicariously thru your story. SO PLEASE CONTINUE TO SHARE.

    May god continue to bless you and keep you safe.


    1. Thank you, Bryan, for your encouraging comments. I know that I shouldn’t take it personally as to what a few people, who don’t even know me, think but I let it happened. Thanks for following along and I’ll be posting more as soon as things evolve further in regards to my plan. Keeping the family safe right now is the priority. Give my best to your family and please stay safe. God speed!


  3. Hi Mark,

    I think you wrote a very thoughtful, detailed post explaining your position. You did nothing wrong. There will always be others less fortunate who are dealing with horrific things that have taken over their lives. Death and dying are everywhere each and every day. It’s OK to feel sad because our own lives are disrupted or even temporarily put on hold for any number of reasons. Feeling sad because we have losses in our lives does not diminish how we feel towards others.

    Recently I woke up with numbness in my hands that progressed to all my extremities. Long story short I had radical neck surgery and am 3 months out recovering with another 3 to go. I can walk a few miles slowly and cannot do my own yard work or ride my beloved mountain bike. No hiking with my dogs or carrying a pack. Am I sad about this? ABSOLUTELY! I am of course grateful for not being a quadriplegic. Everything it it’s own time. I now have only some residual numbness in my hands. I have hinges on C2-3-4-5-6-7 and a C5-6 cervical fusion. They relocated my spinal cord back to where it belonged. Arthritic bones had pushed it way over and it could no longer function to full capacity, End result without surgery would have been complete paralysis!

    I also learned a valuable lesson post 3 admissions to the hospital. I came to appreciate that it would be in my best interest to rid myself of a friend who reeks of negativity and I think holds the belief that she is the “director of the universe.” I went thru a period of blaming myself for not being more tolerant but I finally did bid her farewell. Expressing my concerns to my meditation teacher he explained I had done the right thing. HE reinforced to me that “I did nothing WRONG!” We have to care for ourselves and if others are causing us pain and suffering continuing to engage with them is NOT highly recommended. He also mentioned that i did not have to love her or hate her. I had to simply LET IT GO! I never in my enduring life had looked at things quite like this but rather indulged in always blaming self. I am 77 yrs old and am finally learning the lesson. Try your best not to wait that long. Please keep sharing with us and expressing how you feel about things. It what’s make us human and helps up to connect with each other! And it surly is great fun connecting to like minded folks who enjoy the great outdoors! You are truly an inspiration!

    > > From: The Purposeful Hiker > Subject: [New post] Not Your Typical COVID-19 Response > Date: April 19, 2020 at 11:05:24 AM EDT > To: > Reply-To: The Purposeful Hiker > >


  4. Beautifully written. Love you. 💕

    On Sun, Apr 19, 2020, 11:05 AM The Purposeful Hiker wrote:

    > Mark Waligora – The Purposeful Hiker posted: “Let me first, and most > importantly, start out by saying, I hope everyone is doing well, staying > safe, and being kind to one another. I haven’t written in a while, though > honestly, I have a lot to write about. However, I was a recipient of some > not so nic” >


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