Alone in The Woods

544942_10154748254765704_3806792000639898850_nWhen things get chaotic I have a tendency to turn inward. It’s when I’m most likely to withdraw, to disconnect, and spend more time in my head than I do in the real world.

I’ve been resisting that urge for weeks now. Life is chaotic. I’ve only got two weeks left on the radio. I’m moving into radio sales – completely behind the scenes.  I was going to be moving to Saint John, New Brunswick but now through a series of events straight from a BBC comedy I’ll actually be staying here in Fredericton.  I had already put in notice on my rental house but rather than try to keep it I’ve decided to move to a new place here. So there’s that.  I’ve got to start packing up my office at work, and everything in my house as well.  I’ve got writing deadlines and speaking dates piling up all around me and am supposed to have the first draft of the new book ready to hand over in two weeks.  (Pours another glass of wine.)

Rather than do any of that, Sunday I grabbed my camera, my trail guide book, and headed to someplace I’ve never heard of – to a trail in Pokiok.  (Pronounced Poke-E-Oke, I kid you not.)

I didn’t grow up in the woods.  We weren’t hunters.  I wasn’t a boy scout.  I’m 32 and I’ve never been camping in my life so it makes little sense to me that I’ve come to love being in the woods as much as I have – but it is my favorite place to be.

There is a stillness that I enjoy.  You hear every step you take.  Everything seems very purposeful and there’s a comfort in how familiar everything appears but an excitement that comes from standing somewhere you’ve never been before.  Drop me in the woods with my camera and a coffee (I know, hardly roughing it…) and I’m just about as happy as a guy can be.

If I’m being honest though, there’s more to it than that.  It’s been two years since I lost the first 100 pounds and while I’ll never forget what it was like to live the way I used to, I do need help keeping perspective on it all.  Flashback to the fall of 2011 and the idea of hiking just wasn’t even an option.  You may as well have asked me to walk to the moon.  It just wasn’t going to happen.  It wasn’t even just about it being physically impossible for me at that size, I didn’t want to do it.  Or I wouldn’t let myself want it because that would have meant admitting my size was keeping me from something.

But now there is a high that comes from pushing through it all and doing it just because I can.  Whether it’s a hard climb or just an easy hike every now and then I need the experience of doing it myself, standing somewhere new, and remembering that it’s entirely possible to one day be somewhere you couldn’t even imagine before.   How motivating is that?  All that stands between you and something entirely new is a few good choices, a solid plan, and the commitment to see it through.  That doesn’t just make you proud of  what you’ve done. . . it makes you excited for what comes next.  It reminds you that the world is bigger than you believe it to be.

Thirty-six months ago I spent my Sunday 8 hours into Netflix, ordering a large pizza and garlic fingers and drinking at least two liters of Coke. The furthest I’d walk would be to the door to meet the delivery guy.   I didn’t know this trail in Pokiok even existed.  I didn’t know I’d be living in New Brunswick.  I didn’t know I’d have a book and a new job and a thousand other things that are different now.  I couldn’t have imagined it.

So standing at the end of this trail, wishing it was longer, it’s not the last three years I think about it – it’s the next three, and the three after that.  That hunger for tomorrow is what makes all of this worth while.  It’s a whole new way to live.

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