Since my last entry I’ve been on a roller coaster ride filled with more downs and free falls than I’d like to experience again in this lifetime. The job I parted ways with didn’t go as smoothly as I liked, but I prefer not to get into the details. I prefer finding the positives in this situation. Sometimes the world can show how cruel it truly can be. I’ve done well avoiding the ugliness humans can show at their worst up until now and certainly there’s much worse going on in our world compared to my situation, but, none the less, it’s an experience that threw me for a loop. I’ve had to work to regain my focus and enthusiasm for the hike, not because of doubt or reconsideration but because I just couldn’t get my mind from the place of ugliness back to the place of focus and excitement. This current situation has been a bit of a combination of the bad and the ugly, but the wonderful thing about hard lessons is that good often comes from the bad.
Those who care and love you always seem to step to the forefront to assist. I’m fortunate in so many ways to have a family and group of friends that support me. When I first decided to take on the journey of the AT, they encouraged me to live the dream and see it through. They have been with me since day one of this decision. Showing interest in my prep, expressing concern with the issues I could confront, making sure I’m prepared, sending articles, telling me of folks they have met and spoke with that have attempted or finished the AT, asking six thousand questions many of which are the same (I’m more than happy to answer seeing they are showing genuine interest.), and, of course, telling me over and over not to get eaten by a bear. More importantly, most have seen how I’ve been affected by my recent turmoil. This is when I’ve felt their support even more .
It’s never easy to not let things effect you, get you down and have you second guessing the bigger picture of life. I have found myself many times reflecting on the past and the future. I find myself asking, “What have you done with your life?” and “What do I have to show for myself, and how will I leave a mark?” Life honestly can be some scary shit. I’m forty now and I’m truly not getting any younger. This is one of the many places those closest to me make their mark. They show me the effect I have on their lives and others. They are the ones who teach me discipline and patience. They are the drive behind my moving forward. At times I can be truly lost, but I know I have guides to help me along the way. They are a huge part of my good…
On March 21st I will take my first step on Springer Mountain. In some sense I have a bit of an understanding of what to expect but in so many others I set off on a journey that I can’t predict any of the true experiences I will go through in this 2200 mile journey. Will I start? Yes.. Will I finish? I don’t know but I do know that each day I will wake up with the passion and determination to do so.
If it wasn’t for the likes of Bob Maguire, my coach and teacher at a young age, I couldn’t believe in my ability to overcome the demands the body puts you through and to know how far you truly can push the limits. If it wasn’t for my friend and brother Chuck Ames who at times will look at me and tell me I’m better than this and there comes a time in life where you need to man up, face yourself, be honest and get at it. If it wasn’t for my step dad Phil who truly shows what loves is unconditionally and reminds me what the heart is capable of providing without needing to be told. If it wasn’t for my brother Scott, my ironman who is and always will be the pillar I try to live up to. He will be with me throughout my hike. He will be in my ear reminding me why this is important for me and my growth. If it wasn’t for my mother, she is my best friend who never judges me even when I’m not at my best. She will worry but she will always pick me up and be ready to throw her arms around me when I finish regardless of when that is. She is my protector (and the one most worried about me getting eaten by a bear). And there is my father Paw, my mentor, my reminder of the true realities of life and how you can’t leave any stone unturned. He will live through me during this hike and be there at the most important parts, literally, seeing me off at Springer Mountain, meeting me at Harpers Ferry and welcoming me at Mount Katahdin. His pride will be with me every step of the way.
It doesn’t end there as I have endless family members and friends who will cross my mind often, leave me messages of encouragement, bust on me and remind me of all that are missing me and those I am missing at home. A Red Sox update here and there wouldn’t be so bad either.
The bad and the ugly happens to the best of us. It’s is how we respond to the combination which defines us. For me it’s starting my hike with the intentions of not stopping until I reach the peak of Katahdin. With all the good in my life honestly how can I not.
Jesse (trail name still to be determined)