Monday marked my third week back in ordinary life, and a tsunami of resistance scattered my well-laid plans, smashing my productivity to sentence fragments. I returned to my Long Trail Journal for insight. My entry for my eleventh day on the trail reads, “A big day of overcoming resistance with presence.”
My journal for my fifteenth day back at work reads, “The second week back was harder than the first.”
Day Eleven on the Trail
I’d woken up on Day Eleven after nine hours of sleep, yet I balked at the thought of another hard, twelve-mile day. We’d walked 130 miles in the first ten days; this was the day we’d pass the halfway point, with fourteen days left to get as far as we could. We were aiming for Canada.
It seemed as if we had plenty of time, but I knew what was ahead: Mount Horrid and Burnt Hill, a slog of a climb that followed Romance Gap, a place that once brought my marriage to the brink.
Dread aside, I knew that dragging my feet would only prolong the agony. Worse, we’d arrive at that night’s shelter after dark, something I still feared. So I changed my attitude.
As simple as that, I planted my hiking poles with confidence and stepped up my pace.
“A-I-E!” I whooped, pushing on.
“Attitude Is Everything,” Jan said, catching on to our family habit for acronyms.
Neither Mount Horrid nor Burnt Hill were as bad as I remembered nor as hard as I feared, because once we were climbing, I’d wrangled my mind into the present instead of dreading what was ahead.
Week Three at Home
This week, after a miserable Monday at my desk fretting about how I was ever going to finish this novel, I remembered how I overcame that lead-footed resistance on the trail. And when I returned to my desk the next morning, I wrote well, bringing me twelve hundred words closer to finishing a chapter.
Life off the trail is harder: there are more distractions, more choices, more responsibilities, to be sure. But there’s no end to how the lessons from hiking the Long Trail resonate in my life at home. And just as I overcame dragging my feet on Day Eleven by focusing on the present task at hand instead of the terrain ahead, so I succeeded in overcoming Monday’s resistance to writing a book whose ending I still don’t know by concentrating on my characters’ lives today.
There are a lot of similarities between hiking The Long Trail and writing a novel, between pushing myself to walk another twelve miles or to write another twelve hundred words. Staying present with a good attitude helps, and at the end of the day, both efforts leave me feeling tired and good.
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Till next Wednesday: Happy Trails!