I am making the last preparations before I leave home. I have the van mostly packed. My food boxes are ready to go out. My pack awaits a few last-minute items but is otherwise ready for adventure. I’ve got food to eat while driving across country. I even have my dishes done.
Yet there are many things that will get left undone. I will not organize the pile of papers threatening to take over my floor. I may stack them neatly, but that will have to suffice. There is an adventure waiting to happen.
I anticipate this is what it will be like when I finally release my book into the world. I will have most sections neat and tidy, well organized and neatly fit into boxes. And then, at some point I will say, “Enough” and let it go without obsessing over every little detail. If I don’t do that, it might never see the light of day. Just as there are other adventures to be had, there are other books to write. I will organize the first book as best I can and work on saying, “Good enough. Time to leave it now and move on.”
Often when I write, I don’t have a well-formulated plan. I know my beginning point, and I have a vague notion of where I want to go with it. Still, more often than not, I am a bit surprised at how it ends up. But other times, knowing where I am going and planning ahead makes good sense.
I’m thinking of this as I make the final plans for my hike, aware that those plans may change once I am out there. I am trying not to overplan. But I am also remembering last year. When I finished hiking it was mid October, and I ended up driving home in a few snowstorms. While I had packed clothes to change into after the hike, I did not have enough warm clothes to be fully content.
This year, even as I am sweating with the onset of 80-degree days, I am thinking ahead to September. I will pack some warm clothes for driving home.
Mary Anderson is writing a book about her trek along the 3,000-mile Continental Divide Trail, a journey of healing that she began in her sixties. Mary hiked the southern half of the trail in 2020 and is undertaking the northern half in 2021. Read more of Mary's story.