• Mary Anderson

Patience Is a Virtue on the Trail

I cut steps into the steep snowy slope, forcing myself not to look down. I don't want to freak out. I remind myself that panic is the worst thing to do in a dangerous situation. I focus on each step, sometimes only half a foot from the last. I have to force my mind to stay in the moment. Each step requires as much concentration as the last.

Every so often I glance up to see where I am heading. I work to stay on course and try not to think how much farther I have to go. As I near the end, I have to will myself not to rush it. Each step until I am off the snow and back onto bare ground requires as much precision as the last. I feel myself wanting to race those last few steps, and I must will myself to hold back.

This made me think of finishing things. I am a weaver. I don’t mind the tedium of setting up the loom. I love the actual weaving. I am less crazy about the finishing off. After something comes off the loom, all the ends have to be secured. This is not my strong point. I want to hurry and get it done and move on to the next project. But like the snowy pass, when I take my time and don’t rush it, the outcome is better.

As one thought leads to another out here, I think about the importance of finishing things. I have a bunch of unfinished projects. I want to either finish them or decide to let them go. Having them hang around takes up both house space and head space. Will I really get to the project I started 30 years ago?

On the other hand, I started working on my Triple Crown of hiking (the Appalachian, Pacific Crest, and Continental Divide trails) almost 40 years ago. I never thought I'd be finishing it up alone in my mid-60s. I guess I’m not exactly sure what I will get to and finish. But I know I am reaching an age when I better concentrate on finishing the things that are really important to me or decide to let them go. As I do so, I want to remember that, like the snow crossings, each step of a project is worth doing well. I don’t want to rush it at the end and fall down the slope or ruin a nice piece of weaving with a shoddy finishing job. And as I near the end of my life, I hope I can finish it off with patience and poise, knowing that how I end it might be as much a part of my legacy as anything else I have done.

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