Last night, our friends Nomad and Dwinda stayed with us after the SoRuck weekend. Nomad has hiked many miles in the last few years, including two treks of the International Appalachian Trail, a jaunt from the Outer Banks (NC) to Port Loma Lighthouse (CA), and, most recently, a hike of the Lewis and Clark Trail. Amazingly, he did all of these hikes after the age of 60.
He often talks about the "One Of These Days" list that we all keep tucked away in our minds. "As we get older," he says, "that list seems to get longer. Best get started now."
I definitely have a "One Of These Days" list in the back of my mind. Some of the items on it are, if not common, somewhat achievable: Have an off-white Ford Econoline van with the license plate "HOMEWARD" (this one is still but a shimmery dream.) Marry a man who has the four B's: Beard, Boots, Backpack, and Brains. (Check.) Get a graduate degree in English. (Check.) Learn to sing. (Maybe someday?)
Some items are not so achievable, but that doesn't keep them from being on the list. Hiking the Appalachian Trail (AT) was on that list. (Check.) Being a published author was on that list. (Check.)
I still have a long way to go. For instance, composing a symphony is on that list. I don't know if people even write symphonies anymore. I don't know if I'll ever be able to do it. Even if I do write one, I don't think I'll care if it's ever performed. I just think it would be the coolest thing in the world to write a symphony. It's one reason I'm taking these theory classes. Having a piano recital where I play Really Advanced Stuff really well is on the list, too. Just something I want to do. And something that just may be within my reach, if I work hard enough.
Writing a novel is also on the list. To be honest, writing more than one novel is on the list. OK, I really mean publishing a novel. OK. Publishing a good, intellectually stimulating novel that, despite its complexity, is still really successful and gets me on the talk show circuit and guarantees me a comfortable income for the rest of my life is what's really on the list. And it wouldn't hurt to write something so brilliantly true that it changes people's attitudes and ultimately makes the world a better place. Less ambitiously, getting a Ph.D. is on the list. And maybe getting an MFA. That one's not a major item, though.
Much of the talk this weekend was, naturally, on hiking. Many of the people there had 2,000+ miles under their boots, while others could still only dream of taking off on a long hike. The Hubster and I talked of our plans to thru-hike the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) in 2006. That's on the list. So is hiking the Continental Divide Trail.
I don't know why I want to do all of these things, exactly. The AT hike was something I needed to do. I had to prove that I could do it, but I also needed time to think, to grow, to be pushed beyond my perceived limits. And boy, was I pushed!
I want to thru-hike the PCT for different reasons. I don't feel like I have anything to prove to myself by hiking it. I do feel like it's something the Hubster and I need to do together. It'll definitely push us and hopefully make our relationship stronger. I'm also planning a career change and see the PCT as an ideal cushion between two careers. It'll clear my head and I'll have a better idea of what's important. That's because long-distance hiking also reminds me of what is important in life. Rearranges my priorities to their right order. Gets me away from the cursed television. Gets me back to basics. I need that.
When I was a kid, my list was a little different. I wavered between be a teacher of reading, be a missionary in some godforsaken country, and be a rail-hopping hobo. Who knows if (or when) the invisible ink will reappear. I'm definitely leaning toward the "teacher of reading" thing again. That's partly due to the rather amorphous make a positive difference in people's lives/make the world a better place list item.
OK, so I'm rambling. Anyone wanna share? What's on your "One Of These Days" list? Have you thought about it lately? Hmmmmmm? :-)