*Disclaimer: I curse. I curse a lot. I curse so much that people who curse a lot feel that my cursing is a tad excessive. After reading through almost every page of the Dusty Camel website, I'm not sure if I even found one instance of the word that starts with an 'f' and rhymes with truck. I'll try to keep in mind the words of wisdom spoken by my friend Molly right before being introduced to a new coworker : "Todd, be yourself...but not too much of yourself." So for the next 5 months I'll try to heed Molly's advice and be myself, but not too much of myself.
I remember she and I climbing Mount Washington last August; both of us laughing at the thought of anyone wanting to sleep in a tent, joking about how humans have evolved so that we can avoid the outdoors and sleep in too soft beds under too soft blankets. I remember the comfort of the Bed and Breakfast, the hot shower, the nice sheets, and how sharply it contrasted with how alive I felt above treeline. I remember desperately not wanting to leave the White Mountains. It was on the ride home that the sky started falling. Whatever we had, we had no longer, and whatever 'me' was left in me was swept away in the viciousness of Hurricane Irene. The unraveling thread that had been keeping me tethered to the earth finally gave way and I was as afraid as I'd ever been of becoming lost for good. It's been a difficult 9 months since then. I've amassed as much broken heartedness and stark terror in these months as the cumulative effect of the last 2 decades. So what dulled the roaring quitter in my head? What forced me to sweep up the pieces and attempt to reassemble them? It was so many things: my tribe, who has seen my best and worst and chooses only to remember my best, my medical angels, who always seem to be there when I fall down, and lastly, my hours of solitude on the trails of New York, Western Connecticut, and White Mountains of New Hampshire. I've learned in them the difference between loneliness and solitude, and realized that though the pieces will never be reassembled in the sequence they once were, they will be pieced back together. In their stillness and unspoken strength they have proven to me that this life will not end as it began.
It was somewhere in the last 5 weeks that I decided a thru-hike of the Long Trail in Vermont (275 miles, VT/Mass border to Canada) would be a remarkable gift to myself on what will be the anniversary of the most difficult year of my life. In my mind seeds don't tend to germinate; they instead go from concept to action like a cluster bomb; from initial thought to vacation time/gear buying/mapping routes in a matter of weeks. So here I am , 35 days out from the original idea and less than 100 days away from a nice long walk through Vermont. It's a sickening cliche to talk about living each day as if it's your last, but having lived many days that were uncomfortably close to being my last, I plan on wringing every ounce of soul I can out of whatever time I have remaining here.
This is one of the most beautiful pieces of writing I've ever read. It's from the DC Hardcore band Rites Of Spring. I have tried my best to live by these words, but living them is far harder than writing them:
"Drink deep, it's just a taste
And it might not come this way again
I believe in moments, transparent moments
Moments in grace when you've got to stake your faith"
Todd 'El Diablo' Forkin