I posted this 3 years ago after completing the Appalachian Trail. Once you’ve hiked the trail, you never really leave it. I think it’s important to remind myself, and all of us, or what really matters in this life
September 3, 2014
All along the trail, from Georgia to Maine, I have thought about what I would write after climbing Mt. Katahdin.
How would I explain the trail?
I tried to find words that would capture the trail’s effect on those that hike it.
I wanted you all to feel it.
I don’t have the words.
No one does.
Some things cannot be explained, they must be experienced.
I do have this to share.
In walking the 2185 miles, I’ve had time to think.
Quite a bit, frankly.
It’s given me time to realize I’ve wasted many of the precious moments of my life, pursuing things that didn’t matter, at the expense of things that do.
It’s made me resolve to focus on the important things.
The people in my life.
We spend much of our lives on trivial inconsequentialities.
Pursuing things that no one will remember after we die.
And since we all will die, it’s important to embrace those fleeting moments while you have them.
There’s a Vietnamese expression, “Bui Doi”. Miss Saigon fans will recall it. This translates roughly as “homeless” or “the dust of life”
I think it applies to many of the things we waste time on.
We fill our lives with meaningless technology that segregates, rather than connects.
We stare at our cell phones and iPads.
We text, email, and Tweet.
All at the expense of the truly important things.
Human contact with family and friends.
Or, as I learned many times on the trail, the chance to meet the many good people on this planet.
Walking the trail gave me the opportunity to review my life.
I am a lucky man.
I haven’t always shown, to those people most responsible, that I appreciated my good fortune.
I’ve come to realize the most important moments in my life were never about career achievements, money, or possessions.
They were about friends I’ve known for most of my life and new ones along the way.
It was about meeting my wife Susan, and somehow convincing her to marry me.
It was about seeing my daughter Kelsey open her eyes and smile, moments after she was born.
It was the privilege of watching that brand new life, whose first action on this planet was to bring tears of joy to my eyes just by opening hers, grow into the remarkable young woman she is today.
Those are the things that truly matter.
Thank you, Susie and Kelsey, I am a most fortunate man for having you
In my life. I should have told you more often.
If I can give you anything in return for your taking time to follow along on this journey, it would be that you take a moment to embrace the people in your life.
Tell them you love them.
Tell them you care.
The day will come when that will no longer be possible. Don’t wait.
For that is what truly matters.
Use the time you have to enjoy those precious gifts of family and friends.
Not to be overly dramatic, but there are sections of the trail where one slip, one bad decision, and you end up a news blip of a tragic death.
Those are the moments you see how fragile life really is.
No one knows how much time we have.
Spend your time wisely.
I am determined, from this moment on, to do just that.
“If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.”