Monday, October 27, 2008
Looking For Signs on an Uncertain Trail
One thing that's different about the Colorado Trail from other trails that I've hiked is the markings. Or should I say, lack of markings. The CT can go for miles and miles without a single mark to confirm that you're on the right trail.
I will admit to you that I tend to obsess. Here's how things play out in my head: First you get that little seed of doubt - "Hmm... it's been a while since I've seen a trail marker". Then you start to get a little upset - "why in the world don't they put more marks on this trail"; I'm sure we're right, but uggg... if I have to climb this hill, I'm going to freak". This is usually followed by full blown gnashing of teeth - "This can't be right. A major trail like the CT would have better markings than this. If this is wrong - we won't make it to our camp before dark. We could freeze out here. Did I just hear a bear?"
Today I was thinking about all the bad economic news that's out there right now. It seems like we're all feeling a little like I did on the Colorado Trail. We're asking ourselves "Where's that next trail marker?" Nothing seems solid anymore - and it's easy to second guess whether you're on the right trail or not. And right when the trail is the roughest - you guessed it: No trail markers!
I don't have an answer to the current downturn in the economy. The same can be said for other problems in life. I find that time in the wilderness teaches lessons, and the lessons I took home with me from the Colorado trail are these: Walk in clear and aware consciousness. Pay attention at every cross trail and think through each decision at these crossings carefully. Then in between, walk with purpose. Hold my head up and trust my skills. Know that if somehow I did go wrong, that I'll have the strength and competence to get back on the right trail. Like all good lessons - these are things that are easier to say than they are to live.
Obsessing over the next trail marker makes us miss out on the fun, surprises and joy that life has for us (even in rough times). So - my condolences for your 401K. It's time to lace up our boots (or water sandals) and get out there. Take some risks and push yourself out the door. Winter in Louisiana is the best time to enjoy the wilderness and the lessons it brings in its quiet way.