I never imagined that hiking would be my sport of choice.
I’m still not sure it is.
But if there’s a place where I can go and be still and come back a different and slightly better version of myself, that place is on a hike.
I’d rather have my place be a Chipotle, but some things choose you, you know?
Hiking chose me in California. Before then, hiking was most definitely not my place. Hiking in girls scouts meant me at the back of the pack, struggling to keep up, and generally tripping over my own feet. Hiking as a young adult meant fearfully clutching my shaking legs and saying, “No, you guys go on. I’m good here.”
Then, I went hiking by myself in Malibu, and it was wonderful: peaceful, relaxing, exhausting, and life-giving.
Other people are the problem is what I’m saying.
When we planned our trip to the UK, I knew I wanted to do some munro bagging. If you don’t know what munro bagging is you obviously haven’t been doing your civic duty–that duty being following Sam Heughan on Instagram.
I built it up in my head that I was going to go to Scotland, be a badass, and bag myself a munro. (I’m slightly confused on the nomenclature.)
But time constraints meant that I had to settle for a large hill instead. I’m sorry, Sam!
So on a morning when I reaaaaaally didn’t want to go to “my place” and become a better person because I was pretty good with being the person who slept in, I strapped on my sports bra and… realized I did not bring appropriate footwear. No matter, I was going on a hike.
The hike was lovely. At first.
The grasses and hills distracted me from the sense that I was quite possibly on the brink of dying due to my general (and surprising) lack of physical stamina and the steep edges of the trail. I took as happy of a selfie as I could manage in case I died, so my mom could have one last picture of me, forever etched in her mind:
Close to the top, I slipped, and this gentleman–who was not struggling–stopped to watch me scramble up the rock face. When I got to the top, he said, “Well done.” I’m mostly indifferent about this encounter… I should probably delete this paragraph because who cares if a guy watched me scramble and I’m so boring boring boring.
(I’m just going to leave all of that messy editing business there because guys, sometimes we are just not very nice to ourselves. (And also, it makes me laugh, even if it only serves to confuse you. #PersonalBlog))
And then, I was there. At the top.
I think something really wonderful happens when we do something we don’t think we can do. We get to be a little better than we are, even if it’s just for a moment.
But not so much better than we’re above asking someone to take our picture.
I stared out at the waking city and the sea and the hills, and I was overwhelmed with gratitude for my life, for that moment. I got to be here. I’m quite often not thankful for where I’m at. I’m usually too obsessed about where I’m going to be thankful for where I am. I fill out my planner and set goals and troll social media and I fantasize. I wish I were somewhere else most of the time. Wouldn’t it be great if…
I love that about myself, just to be clear. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to set goals and go after them. I love imagining possibilities.
But I also think that spending my time without any thankfulness for where I’m at equals a life that’s a lot less joyful than it could be, than it should be.
In that moment, I was really, really thankful for my life. And it wasn’t just because I was in Scotland (though, okay, duh, a little of that). It was because my life really is pretty great, warts and all, and I like it.
There. I said it. Doesn’t that seem almost a foreign attitude? I like my life.
I like my life now as I sit on an old couch in Indiana with seemingly few hikes to conquer. I still want so many things in the future. I could get lost thinking about them, but I’m also content right here. I’m thankful for right here.
So I left the hill with a shot of the medicine that is gratitude, and this enormous joy overwhelmed me. So much so, that I had to dance:
Hiking. I think it’s my place.