Monday, October 4, 2010

Some Trips Take Us

I just finished reading Bearfoot A Northbounder: Emails from the Appalachian Trail by Patrick Pittard. My nephew sent me this book because Mr. Pittard was one of his professors at the University of Georgia.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this pithy account of hiking the 2,200 mile AT. I've hiked several sections of the AT in NY, CT, VT and ME and found the descriptions in the book accurate and sometimes insightful.

At the conclusion, Mr. Pittard quotes from John Steinbeck's Travels With Charlie: "We find that we do not take a trip, a trip takes us..." Although I read this book more than 40 years ago, this sentence still resonates with me.

Some journeys we take end up taking on a life of their own and we find that we are passengers rather than tour directors. I felt this way about hiking the Inca Trail this past June. On that trip, I morphed from observer to participant and found myself immersed in an adventure and spiritual pilgrimage.

The difference between a trip we take and a trip that takes us is a shift in perspective, understanding and engagement. There is also the issue of control. When we hand over the reigns of a trip, we relinquish control and can focus on living fully in the present moment.

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