I love an adventure.
When I first thought of sending a hike entry e-mail to Tom Ryan of Following Atticus fame, I thought it would be a fun thing to do. Wouldn't it be great to go to New Hampshire in the fall and meet an author whose work I like? Kind of like a long, giant book signing. I thought it would be a pretty impersonal thing. Show up with a bunch of other people on the day of the hike, walk in the woods, tell him how much you like the book, see Atticus, all done.
Not much of an adventure, more of an event. Not much risk.
Then Tom made it personal. As I mentioned before, he called me out on his fan page. Um, wow, okay, he knows who I am, kind of, maybe, in a way. And I can still enter. This is a good thing! And suddenly he was so much more real. Because he spoke to ME! While I knew other people were being chosen too it didn't occur to me to think about them much that first day or two. I was all about booking my stay for a day early and a couple of days after so I could explore the area in my rental car.
Then, something happened. It became more: More personal. More challenging. More nerve wracking. More physical. More exciting. More stressful. More uncertain.
To me, one of the best things about an adventure is you never know how it will be exactly. You don't really know what you will accomplish or gain, not entirely. If you know every step of the journey it's not an adventure!
At the beginning, I thought I was going to take a hike with a guy who writes books, and his dog, accompanied by some other people. End of story pretty much. Oh, I mean it would be awesome being in the White Mountains. I love nature and being out doors. *** Side tangent: When I was Worthy Advisor of my Rainbow Girls group (it's a Masonic affiliated organization for girls and Worthy Advsior is kind of like being President, but you have to work harder to get there) the theme for my term was "Nature is the Art of God." I recycle. I've been called a tree hugger since way before that was cool. Once I even had a subscription to a magazine called Outdoor. And I've even gone for mild hikes in lots of places too (up a couple of big hills in Nigeria and Bulgaria) just to be outdoors wherever I was.***
Somewhere, after a bit, I realized I better walk more if I was going to do this hike. I've not been quite the same physically since the neccesary thyroid nuking. So, bonus! Motivation to do something I've been meaning to do. I did start walking more.
And along the way we, the other hikers chosen and I, began to get to know each other. We had a private facebook page, we posted pictures, we messaged and made plans, we texted and even talked on the phone some. We started liking each other. The group dynamics were good. We bonded. It's awesome how fun something can be when you get the right group of people together. We have to thank Tom for that! When they are positive, upbeat people it's amazing the things they can overcome and accomplish. Having a common goal from the beginning is a definite plus. Tom provided that too.
Still, it was more. And here's where it gets tricky, it was more. Somehow, it was just, more. Maybe because we are more. More than we realize. More than we knew. Maybe even more than we wanted to be. But, more.
This was not just a hike anymore. In fact, for me, it wasn't about the actual hike much at all by the time I arrived in Jackson, NH. That was a beautiful part, but only a part. It was about the people. That is what I became truly grateful for. They are where my deepest gratitude lies. My heart is fuller, my soul is enriched and my mind is captivated by these friends. They are my adventure now. At the end of my life, when I am saying goodbye to this world in whatever way I am allowed, I know it will not be a mountain or a tree that will be holding my hand, or that my thoughts will turn to.
I need to remember that fact when I am frustrated with people, or hurt by them. I need to remember that for every one that causes me pain there are so many more that lift me up. I knew that from past experience, but I needed to remember. I need to remember that I know that most often the hero of the journey is the one I find inside myself.
I am hopeful that I will see more of everyone I met on this journey. I hope that whatever invisible threads that bind us to each other hold tight and bring us back together (let's get serious about that reunion hike). Even if I never see any of them again though, my life is better because I have been in their presence.
And the title? How is this experience like childbirth?
You think you know what's going to happen, but you really don't.
Even though someone is holding your hand, and urging you on, it's still painful.
You think you're prepared, but you're really not.
The beautiful part is so much better than you imagined.
Things happened that you had no control over.
Emotions ran high.
When it was over the feeling of euphoria is awesome.
The crappy, and painful parts fade away leaving only the good parts to be remembered.
You'd do it again, despite the pain.