Back at the beginning of March, I wrote a post about a former student who had just sent me an email from Atlanta, where she was beginning her thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. Five months later, and Smiling Student is still hiking. She's gone 1634 miles, hiking up and down and though the mountains of the east coast. She's in New England now, on schedule to finish the trail in September.
Her emails have been terrific. She's described some of the gorgeous woods she's hiked through as well as the bleakness of a barren stretch of mountain that is a Super Fund site, a place stripped bare for mining. Her observations about other hikers are often funny. ("We met up with this group of guys and -- Holy Testosterone!") She's described the wonderful community of hikers she's met, with many cases of strangers taking care of each other. She's earned a trail name that is so similar to the Pseudonym I gave her that it made me laugh.
When I think of all that has gone on in my own life since the beginning of March, I marvel that she has spend every single day hiking, taking one step at a time, focused on that goal of hiking that trail. Reading her emails, following her journey, has provided a narrative that is in keeping with the blogs I read.
So many of my blogging friends are also on journeys, focused on particular goals. Some are working to finish dissertations or book projects. Some are searching for jobs. Others are consciously taking spiritual journeys that include both painful introspection and a commitment to reach out to others. Many are working through relationship issues and resurfacing old childhood issues, doing the hard work of going to therapy or twelve-step programs. Many are working to change the culture we live in, fighting sexism or homophobia. Some are busy trying to raise children to be kind, compassionate adults.
I think it's one of the things I like most about blogging. I like reading the daily struggles of people who are working to meet their own goals. I admire the strength and resiliency that I see on blogs every single day. It's comforting to know that we all have to face these big tasks - whether it's raising a child, writing a dissertation, or changing the world - in the same way. One step at a time, one day at a time. Just sticking to the trail. And keeping at it until we are done.