Finished walking the Pacific Crest Trail

downloadFinished walking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) last night… with Cheryl Strayed. Since I haven’t been feeling well I was able to indulge in some extra reading time the last couple of days and last night I finished Cheryl Strayed’s book Wild. I definitely will pass it along to a couple of my friends who I know will enjoy it just as thoroughly as I did but I don’t think just anyone would appreciate the journey Cheryl went on when she walked the PCT.  Cheryl did such a great job describing her journey, the elevation changes, the little spots of humanity, both in physical form and also their actions, that in some ways I feel that I was along the journey with her.

Near the end of the book she writes “Having nothing more than those two pennies was just horrible and just the slightest bit funny, the way being flat broke at times seemed to me. … it occurred to me for the first time that growing up poor had come in handy. I probably wouldn’t have been fearless enough to go on such a trip with so little money if I hadn’t grown up without it. I’d always thought of my family’s economic standing in terms of what I didn’t get: camp and lessons and travel and college tuition …But now I could see the line between this and that-between a childhood in which I saw my mother and stepfather forging ahead over and over again with two pennies in their pocket and my own general sense that I could do it too.  Before I left, I hadn’t calculated how much my journey would reasonably be expected to cost..If I’d done that, I wouldn’t have been here, eighty-some days out on the PCT, broke, but okay”.

This piece really struck a chord with me about human nature and how we get stuck in our comfort zones especially I think if you are in the middle class category.  I know what I am going to say is not absolute, nothing is, but I think those that have a similar background like Cheryl’s are more willing to take risks for in some ways they have nothing to lose. In Cheryl’s case if she didn’t do something like this she had her life to lose based on the path of destruction she was on.   On the flip side, I would tend to bet that you would see just as many people from the upper class in life embark on such a journey but to them it is called an adventure. They have enough security built up to take a break from life should they have that adventurous spirit. Where I think you wouldn’t find great representation is from the middle class.  As a generalization I think this grouping of people are too risk adverse and before most people in this category would embark on such a journey or adventure they would save in advance and not only cover their expenses for the trip but also an extra emergency fund and a nest egg for afterwards. In addition, they would most likely want all variables carefully planned out with great certainly including great assurance that when they were done with their trip that everything would work out and they would be no worse for wear.  Am I wrong?

This thought pattern and behaviour even applies to the current move to Calgary, my husband and I are currently planning for. There is no question I fall into this middle class category of wanting to have some adventure in my life but being risk adverse at the same time. I have chickened out on doing quite a few things in life, including the intense desire to quit my job in my mid twenties to explore the world for a year or so. Instead, I settled with backpacking in Europe by myself for two weeks. Another decision I thwarted was cancelling a month long yoga teacher training program in the Bahamas for I was talked out of it by family as doing something too irresponsible. LOL now.  So instead, I signed up for a local yoga teacher training program and did that while I kept my day job.

With the Calgary move, there is no question that there have been moments of doubt and being overwhelmed with everything that would need to be done to make this happen.  I am definitely stepping out of my comfort zone but for once I believe I now have the courage to step out into the unknown for the difference comes down to having faith in myself that everything will work out. I may not know all the answers and understand that there will be bumps along the way. So  previously where I would have been too immobilized with fear, I am shifting the view of the unknown as positive, exciting, and part of a great adventure of life.

At my friend’s open house this past weekend, I mentioned to one of her guests our planned move to Calgary. She was a retired French teacher and I was interested in getting her perspective on whether we should consider enrolling London in French immersion there.  Her reaction to our move to Calgary was like most people’s in that she categorized it as a big decision. Don’t disagree.  Where it gets funny though (not funny ha, ha but rather funny with the human mind set) is that one of the first things she asked was whether one of our jobs were transferable? I said that we would both have to find new jobs. She then said wouldn’t it be tough given the overall economy? The old me would have taken her comments and allowed a seed of doubt to germinate. It is so typical of many people to express their own fears of the unknown onto others.  That is a lesson that I will try to remember when others express their goals, dreams and desires to me. It is one thing to give someone false hope and it is another to douse a perfectly good idea with doubt and fear unnecessarily.

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