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Begins: Mar 22, 2017
Date: Fri, May 20th, 2016
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after much deliberation and psyching myself up (and out), here i am. journaling. about things. specifically one thing, but as we all know, one thing leads to another..
alright, first things first.
i'm Tara. in case you landed here accidentally, i am planning a northbound thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail for 2017. i'm just guessing at my leave date for now, but mid- to late March is my goal. in all likelihood, it will be colder and snowier than starting in April, but i am hoping to avoid a little bit of the crowd. this will be my first time on the Trail, and i am very excited!
over the past couple of weeks, i've been thinking hard about whether or not to start a journal. i write in paper journals off and on, but the whole blog thing just had me unsure. (full disclosure: i had a livejournal all through high school. i wrote in it constantly. like, multiple times a day constantly. i searched for it recently and THANK GOD my account has been purged. i know there would be some laughs in there, but rereading that many teen ~feelings~ just might have done me in.) anyway, it was hard for me to take the leap and start writing again. initially, i felt like i didn't have anything worth saying. some encouragement combined with outlining potential entries in my head (no shame) got me over that. however, my biggest hesitancy in starting actually came from not knowing how much to say. while there is some comfort to be found in the idea of a clean slate and the semi-anonymity of a blog, there is also the hope for catharsis in letting go and being completely honest. it's hard to decide which approach is more appealing. so i think for the most part, i'm going to choose an in-between. with that in mind, we're just going to mosey on down the middle of the road. how does that sound?
a question that i luckily haven't been faced with too much yet is this: why? why am i hiking the Appalachian Trail? the answer is both simple and complex. this explanation is likely to be rambling and seem not-very-specific, but i aim to eventually have this list down pat. i want it parsed down, and so ingrained in my mind that when i'm out on the Trail, struggling or having a bad day, i don't have to hesitate to recall it. i want it right there in the front of my brain. REMEMBER THIS. this is why you are hiking!
the main reason i am doing this, simply put, is that i am at odds with the person i am. somewhere between starting college (2007) and now, i've just gotten...lost. jumbled. confused. nearly all of the choices i've made seem senseless. i pursued a life i thought i wanted, only to find out once i got it that i was wrong. i graduated with a degree that's basically useless. i married a man i shouldn't have. i spent a lot of time depressed without getting help. i let people use me. i lied and cheated. i kept a job that i rarely get satisfaction from. but...but. things are changing. slowly, sometimes maddeningly slowly, but surely. i got help for being depressed. i came clean with the people i needed to, even when it hurt. and i'm starting to realize that even though i haven't been the best person, i can be better. i can't change what came before, but i can change what comes next. i can be the loyal and loving and kind and thoughtful person that i want to be. a very good friend who knows my whole story, including all the ugly details, told me recently that i am fierce and strong and brave. what a fantastic compliment! no one has ever said those things to me before, and i'm not entirely sure that i believe him. and i'm not entirely sure that i believe me when i'm saying all of these things. but i want to. and this journey, this hike.. it's a step in the right direction. (well, 5,000,000 steps, hah.)
disclaimer: i'm not looking to the Trail to "save" me. the only person, place, or thing who can change me IS me. i know that. what a challenge of this enormity will do for me though is give me the clarity, direction, drive, and confidence to do what i need to do, to become who i want to become. i need renewal. i need to be stripped down, wiped clean. and if living in the woods for 6 months with only the bare essentials doesn't do it for me...i don't know what will.
i have several more reasons to add, plus a gear list and summary of what i've been doing to prepare. but this has been a little emotionally taxing, and besides, i'm hungry.
until next time!
Oh Man Is A Giddy Thing
The Appalachian Trail (A.T.) is more than 2,175-mile long footpath stretching through 14 eastern states from Maine to Georgia. Conceived in 1921 and first completed in 1937, it traverses the wild, scenic, wooded, pastoral, and culturally significant lands of the Appalachian Mountains. Learn more: www.appalachiantrail.org
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