Language is a fascinating and unique tool for weaving an experience into another human being, creating an emotion, or pointing perceptions towards a particular angle. It’s powerful. Lets look at the word “waterproof”, for example. When I read the word “waterproof”, my heart and mind is filled with convictions of dryness, of sacred areas where water is not allowed to penetrate, of warmth and safety. The “proof” part of the word makes me feel secure. It’s solid. What I have had to accept and understand this last week though is that some words in the English language are used more flexibly or artistically. “Waterproof”, in the backpacking world, simply means that if a mosquito pees on you, or if you brush against a small vine with morning dew on it, or if another hiker is exhaling vigorously towards you, you will never be more than a little damp. But if it rains, you will be soaked through miserable in under an hour. I brought up this lack of recognition of rain as “water” in waterproof labeling to another hiker recently and received an understandable little explanation about “breathability”, about how the fabric has to be “breathable” or you’ll sweat too much. Got it. However, the truth would be then that IT’S NOT WATERPROOF!!! (and shouldn’t be labeled as such) In my mind, which I understand is being overly actual factual about things, it should be labeled “Shiny and pro-looking with the protection level of a paper towel”. I was in a damn near dangerous situation this last section because of the marvelous “breathability” of my rain gear and dry sacks. I think I’m just going to wrap myself in Saran Wrap for this last 260 miles.
I’ve learned a lot on this trail about how to be in life with a particularly heavy emphasis on acceptance and surrender. Being immersed in such extreme conditions and under extreme exertion, I’ve taken what the trail has handed me, the people, challenges, environments, glories, experiences, and learned how to not fight, how to say “Okay, yes.” It’s the only obvious choice other than to get off. I’ve chosen to walk this trail, all 2660 miles of it and have so accepted the ways it would change me, the peculiarities it would offer me. I’m not really the master of this experience except in my ability to respond and to respond well. Maybe this is also true about my “walk” through life. Surrender and love it. Yes.
262 miles left but who’s counting?