So I guess this is the end of the Appalachian Trail. I’ve been home for a couple weeks or so I think. It’s a bit strange to be all done with it. I know I’ve said that a hundred times or so – but it’s true. And it’s not a negative thing – weirdness is a fine thing, and if you don’t think so, you need to get a little bit weirder, and a little stranger.
This entire experience has been an absolute blessing from the beginning. It has been bizarre, funny, painful, tedious, euphoric and everything between. And that is what I wanted – that is why I set out on this trip. I was tired of the monotonous comfort. I was tired of time passing in a consistent manner. I needed something to jar me out of the routine, something that made time pass painfully slowly (summiting mountains in freezing rain above treeline was a good one), and something that made time fly by (beers in town with friends always went by too fast). Whenever anything terrible happened out there, I reminded myself that this is what I wanted. I asked for the struggle, and I’m happy I received it. We tend to categorize everything nowadays. Nothing is simply what it is. Things are either good or bad, this or that, up or down. But what if we started accepting things simply for what they are. Everything we experience is something amazing. And that means the falls and the scrapes, the freezing rain, the brutally long miles, the rocks and the gnats, and the knowledge that all things must end. Things are all ok, because they are what they innately are.
I wish I could have figured out the secrets of the universe out there. But I didn’t. I answered some questions, but more always follow. And that’s a perfectly fine thing too. I don’t think we’ll ever answer those questions, at least not for a long time – plus, I don’t think our brains are big enough to comprehend the questions nor the answers. But the good news is, our spirits are an aspect of ourselves that can comprehend what our brains can’t. Although we can’t figure out why, we know that we are part of something bigger than ourselves. We know that what we see is not all there is. One day, we may gain scientific proof of the oneness of the cosmos, but right now, all we have is what we feel.
I’m just a stooge, I know that. So I know I have no idea what I’m talking about. But one of my inspirations had thoughts similar to mine, so I’ll let him sum up what I want to say in a much more succinct and eloquent manner.
“A human being is part of the whole called by us universe , a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty… We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive.” – Albert Einstein
This trip has allowed me to begin my quest for a “substantially new manner of thinking,” and it has allowed me the key I need to “free myself from the prison.” The thoughts I have had will remain with me, the experiences I’ve had will stay with me, the kindness and love I have seen will stay with me. And these will be the catalyst and the building blocks of a new manner of thinking, one that seeks to integrate seemingly disparate matter into a timeless embrace of the Whole of Nature.
I want to say thanks to Albert Einstein first of all – great quote. And I too want to thank Mom and Dad for making the trek up Katahdin, and the siblings for all their support and mail drops and letters throughout. And I can’t name everyone here, but everybody at home, thanks for all your support and encouragement along the way. Big thanks to Scuba Springsteen (Olson) and Monkey (Brandon Imp). They were a big resource for me before I started the trip (both have thru-hiked in previous years). And also a big thanks to my visitors on the trail: Joe Don the Megaladon (Neil), The Googan (Matt), Solitaire (Paul), and Scuba Springsteen. The visits were awesome, and I’m glad you all survived!
And thanks to all my readers out there. I’ve had people read from all across the world – pretty cool stuff. I’ve gotten followers who I never met in my life. I’ve had followers who I met briefly on the trail. And of course I’ve had all my friends and family back home who I forced to read my updates. 🙂
And I want to thank everyone I’ve met on the trail. Especially my closest friends who I’ve shared the greatest experiences with. As I’ve said, people tend to open very quickly on the trail. And it’s an amazing feeling to be able to do so without fear of condescension or pity. There is a trusting acceptance between everyone that we are all different and we are all a little crazy out there.
There are too many memories of people to thank, so if you don’t fall in to a category above, then just know you’re a stooge like me. And know that I am grateful.