Have you done yourself the favor and picked up the book ‘Wild’, By: Cheryl Strayed? If not, do your being justice by reading this compelling, and in many ways, life changing book. I have been reading this work for a while now. I like to take my time when writings such as this one speak to me on a different level, and reach down into the depths of my being.
Have you ever hiked the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail)? Me either. However, the reading of this book and the multiple viewings of the movie depicting the powerful journey of Cheryl Strayed’s solo trek along the PCT has not only inspired me, but it has reminded me that we have all hiked the PCT in our own way.
Somewhere within ourselves are the things that have created physical/mental/emotional barriers. They are pieces of ourselves that are standing on the precipice of personal growth. The hikes on living’s trails with our lives strapped on our backs. Part of this journey came to fruition, for Ms. Strayed, when she put herself on the quest of hiking the PCT. For me, that PCT journey represents many things, and on this day it’s how I spent three nights and four days as a volunteer ranger at a campground in a yurt.
When I arrived at the campground I suddenly realized that this was happening. I began to wonder, “What did I get myself into?” Was I going to be able to do this?
The most challenging piece of this experience has been the night. Spending most of this experience alone, being required to roam the woodland trails at night while doing rounds of the camp sites and trying to sleep with nothing between me and the night but a slim canvas wall. It has been such a push on my being/soul, and a test of so many things around personal vulnerabilities stemming from a lifetime of sorting things out from my growing; being here as a female, the dark-the dark-the dark, wandering the woods at night with only the light I could carry with me – I have pushed myself in ways I’ve never done.
I didn’t do it like the backpackers you see on the cover of explorer magazines, or the hikers who have spent a lifetime of not fearing the unknown – let alone the noise(s) of twigs/branches breaking in the night. My anxiety was consistently elevated when that bright ball of orange went down and the dark skies with pinpoints of light rose up. However, you want to know what? I am doing it, I did it!
There were times when my insides were a tangled mess, but I kept going anyway. I may have slept (or lack there of) with three lanterns remaining lit all night and the sounds of white noise from my phone, but I kept going anyway. I may have had three light sources attached to my being while doing my rounds on the trails at night (essentially looking like the full moon blazing through the woods), but I kept going anyway. When my being felt uneasy and not able to settle, I kept going anyway. I may have slept most nights in my clothing vs pajamas (because in my mind it felt safer and more comforting), but I kept going anyway. I may have had pieces of my life quilt constantly resurface when my mind wanted to settle but the night not allowing it to do so, and yet – I kept going anyway. My anxiety and personal trauma history never fell completely silent, but I kept going anyway.
You would think with so much that often felt like an unbearable weight it would be difficult to be present with what I was here to do, but – there was the magic. The undeniable magic that can come from such moments of living and pushing yourself. The Milky Way soaring overhead – over my yurt – across the lake, the big blue beautiful lake that represented such tranquility, sitting in the middle of that lake in a kayak and a canoe, an owl silently drifting overhead as it left one pine tree to perch in another, brilliant meteors soaring through the sky and piercing the night, turtles, stars, spending time in a yurt for the first time, camp fires, hiking, waterfalling, meeting great people, capturing the night sky for my photography business, the dragonflys – every time I had a thought of a particular someone who has recently entered my space of living – they’d appear, and this time they landed on my hand and sat upon my pencil.
When you allow yourself to be the magical human that you are – your personal vulnerabilities; the shades of pretty/the shades of scary cannot deter you from the magic if you allow yourself to see what it is there/in the moment/in the now. You just have to let it in – scary and all.
On my last night in the yurt there was the rare occurrence of a group of campers choosing not to be respectful of the grounds or those around them in the sites nearby. They were checked upon once by a campground staffer before leaving for the day. When I started my rounds that night, a campground staffer came back to check on them with me as they were concerned. I asked if they would like me to go back into the woods later in the night to check upon them one more time, and they asked me to do so. When that later time in night arrived (around midnight) I tried to talk myself out of doing what I said I would do, but then I reminded myself of who I am as a human and that my word means something – so, I adorned myself with lanterns and off I went. My anxiety was through the roof, but – I did it anyway, and I could not have been prouder.
Each morning that the light came = I did it. The lack of doing it pretty does not matter, the fact that I simply did it, does. And, you know what? I may just do this all over again. And, maybe this time; I’ll only need two lanterns instead of three.