Try. Be. Write.

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Recommended Reading Volume 3

When a Journey is Done

You don’t know what to do.

I finished my hike from Mexico to Canada along the Pacific Crest Trail a month and some change ago. Completing the journey brought up the same feelings as finishing my first novel. Confusion. Loss. Disappointment. Yearning. Yes, I learned that yearning can be a feeling.

I was lucky enough to have a party with friends at the northern terminus, at the end of the hike. Celebration was in order, for sure. But the excitement dwindled as the people stepped away, one by one, out of the lives we had each built for ourselves over the last six months, the lives we had put years of planning into.

Accomplishing something great is enjoyed in the moment and in the memory of it. Finishing it is not so much fun.

The journey had ended. The wandering had begun.

The city was overwhelming with its noise and congestion. Home was just as bad with all of the bills and responsibilities and societal expectations dumped on top of you like a heaping pile of wet laundry. Congratulations were more uncomfortable than appreciated. People don’t know what to say because they don’t understand. They’re happy that you finished your thing, but they don’t get that you’re sad because your thing is over. It was your thing. Now what do you have?

You have to start again. Start new projects. Work on a thing. Accomplish a new thing.

Being done is the worst part of the journey. People don’t like it when you’re not working on a thing. You don’t like it when you’re not working on a thing. Working to improve yourself, working on a career, working to help others, working to make a new thing.

When a journey is done, you don’t know what to do. When a journey is done, you need to start something new.

Thru-Hikers Are Selfish

Choosing to thru-hike the Pacific Crest Trail is the most selfish decision I have ever made.

There is a sense of pride in taking on a challenge of such magnitude as the Pacific Crest Trail, a sense of accomplishment in the decision and preparation, and all before stepping a single foot onto the trail.

Family and friends feed into it. The ego of a potential thru-hiker is inflated exponentially by the back-pats of fathers, hugs of mothers, the turned-up thumbs of siblings, and the ‘how can you just do something like that?‘ questions dropped by best friends– to which must be replied with ‘well, let me puff out my chest and just tell you all about this thing I haven’t done yet!‘ Thru-hikers choose to abandon their lives. Jobs are discarded and families are left behind.


It will only be for five months or so, I’ll see you guys again soon. Why don’t you come meet me out on the trail, that would be fun! Hey, by the way, can you watch my cat for me? Oh, and I’ll be needing a place to store my things. Would you mind? Some of those things I will need out on the trail, and I was hoping you could mail them to me. Remember to water my plants, and when you get my mail just sort out all the junk and throw it away for me. I trust you. Thanks for giving me a ride to the drop off point. I really appreciate it. Yeah, it’s sad that I won’t make it to Terry’s wedding, but they knew I was going out on the trail when they scheduled it and I only have such a short timeframe to get this done.

The support of close friends and family is what makes a thru-hiker’s selfish challenge possible. The small requests of a thru-hiker are never ending, but neither is their appreciation. Some may have it easier than others, and I am certainly blessed to be surrounded by the amazing people who are supporting me on this journey, but all thru-hikers are selfish in their quest and should remain steadfast in their efforts to remain humble and grateful.

The planning and preparation for a thru-hike is immense, and the hike itself is often too much to handle for those who set out to conquer it. Thru-hikers are more than selfish, they are also passionate about their adventure, stubborn in the face of adversity, smart, strong-willed, and so much more.

And the thing about being selfish is that it is not necessarily a bad thing. Deciding to take on this quest is the most selfish decision I have ever made, but it is something I feel I need to do for myself. I believe most thru-hikers would say the same. The trail is calling to those who need to heal, those who need to find themselves, those who simply thirst for adventure. Selfishness, at certain times in life, is necessary.

Crossposted at JillandRtPCT

I Gave Up On Writing

I have given up on writing.

My writing has come to a standstill. My production has not been this stagnant for over a decade, if not longer. The last six months have been nearly void of writing. Minimal effort put toward any creative endeavors, nearly zero contribution to any of my blogs, and not a single article worth mentioning. The only piece of work I had completed was a Christmas poem for Jill, and that took some serious effort to finish.

You know what the funny thing is? I chose it. I chose to give up. I told myself that I had to stop, and so I did.

Going back to early 2014, I lived in stress every day around my writing. Whether I accomplished a little or a lot, or none at all, I stressed about my work. How much can I do? Does the story make any sense? Where can I find the time? This isn’t enough. It never will be enough! This is the daily life of a writer, at least as I understand it. There was something different about this time, though. I was both eager and anxious about my writing, as usual, but the weight of the world seemed to be collapsing in on me. Pile on work stress, emotional exhaustion, bouts of depression, and a growing sense of general apathy to the anxiety of feeding my creativity and maybe you can understand how I was becoming overwhelmed by my own world.

I had to simplify my life. I had to give up some of what I loved so that madness would not consume me. So, I cut out the need to write from my life, along with a few other obligations, and I began the healing process.

The daily desire to write was out of my system, along with the daily stress of making myself find the time and muster the will to feed that desire. My tension dissipated over the weeks to come, the muscles in my neck and shoulders softening like butter left on a countertop. I’ve always thought of myself as a strong person, but anyone can find themselves overwhelmed from time to time. Cutting out parts of my life wasn’t a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength. I figured out what I needed to do for myself, and I took action.

And so over the past months I’ve made myself stronger. I’ve found better ways to manage the stress in my life, and I’ve learned to set boundaries so that I can focus on certain aspects of my life at the appropriate times and places. I’ve begun layering the responsibilities of my life back together in a more manageable order, and now it is time for writing, too, to rejoin the mold that is me.

I had given up on writing, but it never gave up on me. It was right there waiting for me all along. It knew I would get better in my own time, and that I would find it again.

Glad to be back on track.

Enter GoPro and YouTube

New to my content creation arsenal is my new GoPro Hero 3+, and along with that comes a host for the new format of content, my YouTube account.

I’ve had my new toys for little more than a week, and they’ve been a blast and a half to play with. This GoPro is my first, and it is an amazing little device. The camera is so basic, yet it can do so much. My television can’t even handle it’s 4k resolution, and my computer struggles to process the 1080p 30fps videos. It’s a heluva machine. My 8 year old Sony DSLR is still great for single shots where I want to fiddle with the zoom and focal length, but the GoPro beats it in every other way, and can do a lot more new stuff to boot!

I’ve also purchased an REI Hiker Shocklight Staff which has a camera mount on top of the pole, hidden under the cork knob.

Shocklight Staff with top-mounted GoPro

Shocklight Staff with top-mounted GoPro

Along with using my staff as a monopod, I ordered a StickPic to increase the variety of angles I can shoot from.

StickPic with GoPro

StickPic with GoPro

I’ve only just begun my exploration of what the GoPro can do and how creative I can be with it. Here are a few shots I have taken so far.

I’ve also played around with some video, though I’m most impressed with my steady-shot videos so far.

I’m using Gimp to edit my photos, and an old version of iMovie for the video editing. I can’t do all too much, but I think the kind of outdoor footage I’m looking to shoot will not need too much editing.

I’m looking forward to experimenting with the apps on my phone to import the GoPro footage, edit the video and pictures on my phone, and upload it to WordPress so that I can blog on the go, especially for our 2015 PCT Thru-hike.

And so now I have a YouTube account which will be filling up with videos, mostly of hiking and beautiful scenery. I’m so lucky to get to experience beautiful locations, and I want to share them with you in the best ways that I can.


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