It is easy to become creatures of habit. Some parts of our daily routine are mundane while others we look forward to. Noah and I used to have a steady routine of taking evening walks and hiking adventures on the weekend. We would drive down into the canyon behind our home and walk along the trails by the American River. Our evening hikes would range between two to four miles. Some trails ran parallel to the river, while others ascended up the canyon giving us a bird’s-eye view of the beauty that surrounded us. This was a delightful way to spend our evening together, holding hands, talking about our day and how we love where we live. This was my favorite part of my day that I greatly miss.
“I looked north, in its direction–the very thought of that bridge a beacon to me. I looked south, to where I’d been, to the wild land that had schooled and scorched me, and considered my options. There was only one, I knew. There was always only one. To keep walking.” – Cheryl Strayed, from her novel “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail.”
When looking back on the past two years, it is unsettling to think that the favorite part of my day was taken away from me due to my disk herniation. The thought of those days returning is a beacon of light to me. So I continue to walk forward with that very hope. There are many components of nature that I enjoy. The solitude. The quietness. The freedom. The challenge. The beauty. The smells. The connection.
“There is no Wi-Fi in the forest but I promise you will find a better connection.”
Since my mind, heart and senses continue to yearn for the old adventures, I thought I would set off on a hike, but on a different route. I figuratively walked with Cheryl Strayed on the Pacific Crest Trail in her novel, “Wild.” Due to health issues or age, we may not be able to do what we once could. This may become a fact of life that we must accept. During these time periods, I believe it is important to find ways to still get “there,” even if it is through our imagination.
This was the first time I tried this method on my path of healing. Of course I wish I could physically be out adventuring on the hiking trails, but our minds can do wonders. It was fun to have this novel take me back to those trails where I could feel like I was standing there and reveling in the beauty of the sierras. To imagine that wonderful feeling of exhaustion after a long day of hiking. The excitement when you hear rustling of leaves and see wildlife. To disconnect with the fast-paced world and reconnect with yourself.
“Find a beautiful place and get lost.”
Reading “Wild” got me lost in a place that I love. Noah occasionally hikes the trails that we once enjoyed together, but at present are too challenging for my healing back. Last weekend, I asked him how his hike was. He responded, “It is not the same without you. The trails miss you.” It brought tears to my eyes hearing that and still does today, thinking about it.
Life is a wild adventure. It is going to throw us curve balls. We may endure things we never expected. We may not have the answers or the solutions. We may need to accept change and adjust accordingly. I continue to hold onto hope and determination to get back to adventuring, in some capacity. In the meantime, I will find avenues to ignite those wonderful memories and to fuel my desire to keep fighting. For it is important to have something to fight for and something to look forward to.
“To believe that I didn’t need to reach with my bare hands anymore. To know that seeing the fish beneath the surface of the water was enough. That it was everything. It was my life–like all lives, mysterious and irrevocable and sacred. So very close, so very present, so very belonging to me. How wild it was, to let it be.” – Cheryl Strayed, from her novel “Wild.”