‘The best things in life are worth the wait.’ Have y’all heard this before? I’ve said it in the past, and while out on the trail, it’s a phrase I’ve been thinking about.
Here’s the thing. I feel like waiting for the best things in life is a bit of cop out. I’ve used the phrase often, but I wasn’t happy when doing so. I’ve said it with the hope of a more exciting future, something different than the day-to-day rut I get stuck in.
On Saturday morning, the day before heading out, I was busy getting my stuff together for the trail when my phone starting going off. Notifications from various AT groups I belong to shared that there was an incident in Virginia and a section of the trail was closed.
I won’t go into a lot of detail about what happened, but I will say it’s a devastating loss, not only to those immediately affected, but to hikers everywhere.
When I found out that thru-hikers were attacked, one in critical condition and one killed, while on the trail, my thoughts immediately went to holding off on my hike. I’m a petite, 23 year-old that easily passes for a teenager. My size, youthful appearance and the fact that I am solo-hiking make me feel like a target. Aside from this, some of my favorite people plan to both section and thru-hike the AT in the future. Why not wait just a little bit longer to thru-hike, so I wouldn’t have to go at it alone?
Let’s skip ahead to my first day out, not even on the AT, just the Approach Trail. At the shelter, I met a kind, older man; the first trail-angel of the trek if you will. He told me he was struggling, had way too much food and began handing me Cliff Bars, Snickers and bags of high-end trail mix. We talked a bit and I learned that he was attempting to thru-hike because he finally retired and now had the time to do so.
He mentioned that he and a good friend always planned to do the AT together, but they never got around to it. Later on, I came to find that the friend he mentioned passed away. The dream he and his friend always had is no longer a possibility. Today, the man hikes to honor his friend; and while I find this to be touching, I can’t help but think, if only the two would not have waited, the dream could have been a reality.
When I thought about pausing my plans, I decided to put my fear and the unfortunate incident, aside. I said to myself, ‘Kel, good and bad things happen everywhere, everyday.’ We can’t not live our lives because we are afraid. We must move forward, learn from each experience and grow.
We also can’t wait for the ‘right moment,’ because honestly, that time may never come. Instead of hoping that things will be better in the future, we should focus instead on living our best version of life, now.
I’m not saying to live irresponsibly and not consider what may be at stake. I know that life is messy and hectic, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and put the goals and dreams we’ve always had to the side.
I like to think that we can always be living our best lives, at least to a certain extent. That even if we aren’t thrilled about our current state, there is something allowing us to achieve our best.
No matter where you are on your thru-hike of life, I hope you take the time and effort to make the best happen today and everyday. If the saying is true and best things in life really are worth the wait, then go on and live your best life right now. Because while you are living and enjoying all that your life has to offer, something even better is just around the corner.