Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Road To El Dorado: flats happen

Anyone can be positive when they're winning, when the chips are stacked around them. Anyone can be perky and bright when they live with certainty of basic needs being met and exceeded.

When the chips are down, when your car develops a more than bald tire or two and your slowing your travels to make memories with friends...

When you wish you had something to give your friends to show how much you love them and how grateful you are for everything they are and do.

When you hike a trail you can't wait to reach the top of the mountain. It's tedious. Each step burns. You count them sometimes. Sometimes you take breaks on the way, prolonging the muscle burning ache. It's hard to smile. It's hard to laugh. Faking easy, when you need to give yourself rest and your dripping sweat is impossible .

The vistas are never at the top, they're usually near the top. You look out and suddenly there are miles of landscape where moments before there was just your feet, your sweat and a dusty, narrow trail. The colors and vast panorama are overwhelming. Other mountains with blankets of deep green deciduous trees, emerald evergreens, peridot saguaros with different shades of earth from grays to browns, oranges and stark reds. All the sudden you become small. You realize how much world is out there. You realize how tiny your path is. That there is no map. 

I chose to step off the proverbial trail after walking away from the proverbial road. I passed Frost and ran into Gidot, who was waiting for someone else long forgotten.

Now and then I hit vistas, feel the ache and discouragement of the full pack hiker anticipating real challenges ahead and just having navigated others. I know it will pass, the next day I will skip down the trail watching for more excitement. Wildlife, tourists, gurus, rare plants and natural splendor of geology in 4D.

One would think elation, a sense of achieving but in reality, the experienced hiker first hits the lows. The pain, the exhaustion, the soreness. You don't stop, but you don't offer a fake smile. You don't waste breath on politics or platitudes. You share water, shake the sweat out of your eyes and continue. You breathe.

I've been an experienced full pack hiker since I was a teenager. I've hiked in the New York including the Adirondacks, state parks throughout Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Arizona, Oregon, Ohio, and California. I love trails. Granite mountain, Bagby hot springs, bridal veil falls, Indian pass lake colden loop, the Susquehanna trail. All amazing.

I find my approach to life often mirrors hiking a tough trail. You take care of your team and your gear,  you politely treat those you pass, if you have nothing positive to say to someone you stay out of their space rather than feed negativity or unnecessary drama, stay focused on moving forward, appreciate the views, listen, look, use common sense, smile when you can but express feelings honestly don't bury them or let them fester. Don't carry Extra burdens. Put the past down, you can't really carry it and trying only hinders you. Pack in pack out. Leave no trace, if you don't need it give it to someone who does. But fatigue happens. I'm real, I'm not happy every day.

Common sense is worth more than alphabet soup.

What? Soup, you say?

Soup. An education is great, it doesn't hold a candle to common sense, a fast mind, focus and good listening skills. Today I did laundry at the Lost Dutchman Laundry. Pat and Amy Adams were there, as they are seven days a week with their bright smiles.

Amy told me that she was an accountant by trade and training, she worked and learned physical therapy assisting a licensed practitioner. They run the laundry and groceries on Delaware ave in Apache Junction now. She recounted how she herself had a stroke and insurance wouldn't cover therapy or big hospital bills. She related an important lesson. She, without a fancy piece of paper, learned the exercises for helping someone gain skill and strength after a stroke. On her own, she did her therapy. She set a goal to dance in three months. Her left side had been mostly paralysed. She successfully danced the foxtrot in the pool at three months.

She did it, on her own. She is amazing! Her shared wisdom was right. It's in your head, no one else's.

When life kicks you in the teeth, stand up. Brush yourself off, give a nod and deal with it. You won't get far if you lie there. Life isn't fair and sometimes it hurts. Learn, deal, go forward. She's right. Emotions are a luxury, wallowing in martyrdom or self pity gets you no where. But get it out. 

She made another important point. Take time to figure out what you really enjoy doing before committing to secondary education. Guessing wrong is expensive. It's your life. You have to figure it out, not your parents or friends.

A degree doesn't give someone a right to be rude, it doesn't indicate skill or intelligence; it means someone followed directions andctested well. Some exceptions: pilots, neurosurgeons, bomb squad technicians, paramedics, fire fighters, and I'm sure I'm forgetting some.

I've got the most respect for those who work to improve lives, the least respect for those claiming to do that while doing nothing or negatively impacting people.

I hold the world and its ecosystems as the most important. Without them we don't live. We create jobs to boost the economy yet we don't prioritize and create them to benefit nature and maintaining a healthy world.  Depression and anxiety symptoms decrease with more outdoors activity, Vitamin D anyone?

Today we hike to the top of the Flat Irons. It's another one of my favorite hikes.