When I tell people about my upcoming adventure, many say “I wish I had the time to do that” or “I wish I could just take off and do something like that”.
There will never come a point in your life when you will not have responsibilities and alsohave a bunch of disposable income to take on a six-month endeavor. To take on something such as this, you will have to make sacrifices to make it happen.
As I hear that proclamation, “I wish I could do that”, my silent response is, “If you really wanted to do it, you can.”
It’s all about prioritization. As with many other things you do in your life, you will always do what is most important to you. For example, how do folks commute hours back and forth to a full-time job, have children, and still have time to go to the gym? It’s because the gym is something that is important to them. They make time for themselves to get to the gym, regardless of the cost (which most likely is the lack of sleep).
I am a lucky person. The stars have aligned and are allowing me to embark on this journey. This is not to say that it comes without sacrifice.
No, I don’t have an illustrious career that I can’t give up. I had a job, a very good job working in New York City for a renowned luxury jewelry retailer. A series of events, some call it fate, led me to giving that up for the sake of my sanity and health.*
No, I don’t have a big mortgage and bills up to my eyeballs. I had a beautiful house not too long ago, but that is now gone.* Anything that I had is either gone or paid off, with the exception of the condo I now live in, which used to serve as a second residence, so the cost is nominal.
No, I don’t have children. Having a family was forsaken at the expense of having a ‘successful career’ that required long work days and many months spent on the road for work.*
I don’t have any of the things that would prevent most people from embarking on such an epic adventure as hiking the Appalachian Trail in it’s entirety. So what am I sacrificing?
Well, I’m not able to spend money like I used to. Without any income, I won’t be able to buy much of anything anymore. Me, who used to walk into a store, most any store, and not even look at the price tag of something before I bought it. Boo hoo. I know. Poor me. I’ve learned a hard lesson here. It’s not that I didn’t appreciate what I used to have, I just didn’t appreciate it enough. I used to just piss money away, but I now have so much more respect for how I come to acquire things now.
Some people actually sell their homes in order to hike the Appalachian Trail (no kidding). Luckily, when I was working, I saved up money. I’m taking that money I saved and using it to cover whatever expenses I have for the upcoming year. I live in an apartment the size of a postage stamp. It’s cost-effective. I have no room for much of anything, but it’s cheap.
Although I don’t have kids, I have three furry ferrets whom I will miss very much. I have recently found out that one of them has an incurable illness that hopefully will not cut her life short and prevent me from having a reunion with her when I return. This thought breaks my heart and I’m trying really, really hard to push past this.
I have a husband whom, after having recently reconciled with, will be left behind. Although the decision for me to take on this hike was made before our reconciliation, he has been nothing but supportive of me and even encouraged me to continue on with my plans. It’s ironic that the distance and time spent away from each other that caused a wedge in our marriage is now back in another form that is part of our healing process.
There are many thru-hikers who leave behind families to take on this challenge. I am not the first and will not be the last. The common denominator is a very supportive significant other (or maybe not so significant) that stays behind to hold down the fort.
I am a lucky person. The way things worked out, you can almost say that I’ve been planning on hiking the Appalachian Trail for all of my life and the time has now come for me to do it. In my case, you can say that the decision to do this was an easy one, it was easy for me to prioritize this.
What am I trying to say here? I’m putting everything else aside and putting this hike in the forefront. Life as I know it is being put on hold. I’ve made a decision that money is not important, having a nice home is not important, and having nice things is not important. What is important is me finally living my life to the fullest and doing something that is so fantastic that when I’m done I can say, “Wow! That was great!”
What is important to you?