There was nothing wrong with me.
I didn't walk 2,668.8 miles to cure myself, to become anything, or to fix anything.
I did it because I wanted to.
I was lucky enough to just want an adventure.
Part of me would have liked to have had something to fix, or something to work through, given that there was no better place or time to do this.
I told myself, in the hardest moments of the trail "remember this, remember how hard this is for next time you're faced with a challenge back at home".
I guess I thought nothing could ever be that hard.
As it is, lots of things are that hard, and the feeling that something is hard is difficult to quash, no matter what that hardship is. It's all relative.
I ran today, and it was hard. It wasn't suddenly easy just because I have walked a long way.
What I do feel that's different, is my ability to let things be hard. Mental or physical. To acknowledge very fully, how things feel in my body, and decide if I’m to work through the feeling, or to let the feelings be, and do nothing at all.
I'm not that into pain, or scary challenges, I do them so I can feel like I have earned a big cup of coffee and a cake at the end of it. I do things for the pleasure. I go to the top of the mountain for the view and the feeling that I earned the view, and then for the memories of it, forever with you.
Initially on the trail, there was no time to think reflectively. There was only time to think practically - "Where is the next water source? When is the next break? Where are we on the map? Where will we sleep tonight?"
. I was initially frustrated, that my brain was always asking these important questions, I wanted to switch off and 'think' then I realised, I had never in my life been so in the absolute present, as I was there and then. I was being forced to be, exactly where I was.
I so rarely am, exactly where I am.
Of course, before I left for the trail, I wondered what would be different about me upon my return, there would have to be something. Wouldn't there?
I don't know - I’m not looking for the differences, I'm not looking back, I’m not even really looking forward, I feel I just am. I guess that is the difference.
Go on an adventure to feel something, to build fires and to get good at it. To know the weather before it happens, to feel thirst and hunger like never before, to feel alive, and to feel good and bad about that fact.
Or, do it to fix you, to become what you have always hoped you'd be. To feel poetry, daily. There is always a good enough reason, there is never the perfect time.
The most common question I’m asked is: ''what was it like?''
As if I could sum it up in a sentence. My answer is always "long"
The more adventurous minds have pre-prepared questions ''How did you go to the loo?'' ''How many pairs of shoes did you wear?''
or ''How many times did you wish you were someone else?''
''Like I normally do''.
Nothing seems easier now. I try to remember the ache I had so often, of just wanting to rest, stop, sit down and sleep - but I can't because now I’m in the now. The memories are all golden - which is probably why I feel I could do it all over again.
I think I will.
Here then at home, by no more storms distrest,
Folding laborious hands we sit, wings furled;
Here in close perfume lies the rose-leaf curled,
Here the sun stands and knows not east nor west,
Here no tide runs; we have come, last and best,
From the wide zone in dizzying circles hurled
To that still centre where the spinning world
Sleeps on its axis, to the heart of rest.
Dorothy L. Sayers in Gaudy Night
The following two tabs change content below.
Born and raised in the remote mountainous region of Suffolk, Astrid is a dyed-in-the-wool outdoors woman. Educated and qualified in mountain leadership, scuba diving, rock climbing, canoeing and kayaking, life preservation and many more daring and dangerous pursuits, she's an outdoor instructor and expedition leader. Astrid's also been known to attend the occasional Frontier Bushcraft course.