• Mary Anderson

Living in the Present

I have been living in the moment out here like I never have before. I make some rough plans for the day but then let the chips fall where they may. I’ve decided I do not want to live in the moment if I am not enjoying it because I am focused on some future goal. It doesn’t mean the present is always easy or fun, but it means I accept the difficulties with a kind of joy because they help me reach the goal.

Now, if the weather turns unpleasant to walk in, I stop. When the mornings are frosty and in the teens, like most of them have been and will continue to be, I take my time to get going. I have lessened my goal for the number of miles I expect to make in a day. I am happy with fourteen, and even ten is enough in this next stretch, where the maintains are rugged and beauty and blowdowns abound. What I am doing feels right in the moment and so I go along with it even though it is not my modus operandi.

I’ve been fairly goal-driven in my life. I realize it is a luxury to be able to do what I want each day. Part of that is because I did not try to do this trail all in one year. I am not forced into hiking twenty- and thirty-mile days to reach the end. Some days I wonder why I continue to walk with a huge weight on my back, but so far the answers keep me going.

I remember when I was single-parenting my young son I sometimes wondered why I continued. But just as I do with hiking now, I was able to remind myself that as tough as it sometimes felt, I was doing it because I wanted to do it. I wanted to be a good mom to him, and I want to finish this hike. So I keep plodding on, but now I do it in a more comfortable, laid-back, less driven manner.

I am aware that my weather window is shrinking. I think of Arctic explorers or the Donner party, who had disastrous outcomes because they did not stay ahead of the weather. I have little idea what lies ahead for me, but I am doing what feels right in this moment. This moment may be all I have left. I'll find out what will happen in the future if and when I get there.

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