August 07, 2005

Sticking to the trail

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.

21 comments:

Vegan Momma said...

I enjoy reading other blogs also. I find them inspiring.

It will be wonderful taking my daughter on hiking/camping trips when she is older.

Laura said...

What a wonderful accomplishment. I love the connection you make to bloggers charting their daily lives. I do sometimes feel like life is a long hike. Each day brings difficulties and wonders and sometimes barrenness, but you always know there's another day ahead.

Friday Mom said...

Thanks for this. Words that mean a lot to me today.

Lorna said...

Thanks for the encouragement to keep walking the walk and writing about it Jo(e).

oh I do envy your student too though :)Nowadays a hike is 12km max and home for tea!!

be blessed

Miranda said...

What a wonderful metaphor you employ. Stay focused, one day and one step at a time. I forget that sometimes.

RussianViolets said...

Dearest Jo(e), you have such the way with words. I had never thought about it this way, but you are 100% correct, and it's exactly why I love reading blogs -- knowing that there are others out there dealing with the same kinds of things makes the hike just a little bit easier. Thank you.

colleen said...

Yes, it makes you wonder what all our busyness is even about. I walked the trail for 4 days. I also relate to your comments about blogging. It love seeing into people's lives this way and seeing how alike we really are.

Mieke said...

The timing of your post is perfect. I was feeling a bit blue from illness and the many projects I am working on; one is a life changing project. If I do well another world will open up for me and I don't know if I will be able to do well. I am so used to doing well on anything I set my mind on so I've been frustrated and scared by the uncertainty of it all.

Great reminder to stay focused, to keep on the trail, to keep moving forward, one step at a time, I should get there.

I hope.

negativecapability said...

I'm struggling to do a little bit every day as well - sometimes it's so easy to get overwhelmed by the big picture and forget about what's right in front of you. Thanks for this!

reverendmother said...

Hear hear.

PPB said...

preach it!
(you really would be a good preacher---you know that, right? if only the RCs would get over that whole boy thing and celibacy thing. )

jo(e) said...

Thanks PPB! I am so envious of all you preaching women who actually get to get up and say stuff like this to a congregation.

Songbird said...

I'm not at home, but I'll make sure my retired thru-hiker gets this post. Did you know that it was through the comments on your original post that I connected with Waterfall, who was a thru-hiker Pure Luck met on the trail in 2000? It's a small world, and our trails are so often parallel.

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

For about 3 years now I have been trying (off and on) to write a story about a new mom who climbs a mountain with her own mother and her infant daughter, then baptizes the baby in the stream that emerges from a small glacier. Your post reminded me of this. Step, step, step. That's the only way I got through the first few months of being a new mom.

Lovely blog, jo(e).

What Now? said...

Lovely post. And I love the image of all of us as fellow travelers, on different journeys but all walking together.

Rana said...

I love this too.

*hoists walking stick and waves at jo(e)*

Running2Ks said...

Here here! What's the point of life if you aren't viewing it as a journey?

Psycho Kitty said...

You are just so freaking brilliant. *You* are a big part of my days!

Moreena said...

I love this, too. Reading my collection of blogs has become a daily necessity, and although I laugh about the voyeurism of it all, I really do believe that there is something deeper and more important than that to it. Thanks for really expressing it beautifully.

halloweenlover said...

Such a beautiful post, Jo(e)! I love the thought of your student hiking such long distances, smiling all the way. That is also what I love about blogging. Being a part of that person's journey, even a small part, and encouraging them along the way.

Julie said...

Well said, Jo(e)!