After walking away from my Appalachian Trail life almost two weeks ago, my thoughts and feelings about the past journey, the present moments, and the future decisions seem to conflict and even contradict each other at times.
Past: The excitement of entering into Maine and knowing we had finally crossed the last state line. The rush to Katahdin, as if it wouldn't be there if we didn't arrive by a certain date. The need to be done with this journey. Done walking. Done eating Lipton's Rice Sides every night. Done choking down instant oatmeal every morning. Done pulling on the same dirty clothes each day of the week. Done reading the signs of the sky in an attempt to forecast the daily weather. Done digging holes to go to the bathroom. Done walking. It was almost an urgent feeling to get to the finish. Maine was beautiful in every way. But I fear we may have missed important parts of it in our blurred vision as we focused only on the prize at the end - Mt. Katahdin. I thought I was ready to be done. Was I?
Present: Feelings of nostalgia mixed with a bit of sadness as I look through the 700 pictures that Megan and I took of our 6 month journey. I can only relive moments now as I look from picture to picture, trying to recall the expressions of our trail friends, the emotions of the day, the highlights of the adventure. Questions - Why did we rush to the end? What will become of our dear friends that we met enroute to our common ground, Katahdin? Have I learned enough to change the parts of my life that need changing? Am I strong enough to resist the opressiveness of the cultural norms and societal influences? Who am I, now? Can I fit back in to this fast paced, selfish world? Do I want to? The questions keep coming. The answers are not aparent. I wonder, will they ever appear?
Future: Apprehension mixed with a slight bit of urgency. Apprehension - because I know not the road I will follow. It is not as clearly marked as the trail I have recently left behind. The doorways and avenues that are before me present conflicting options. Urgency - because a plan for my future is what the people around me expect. The world expects it. Society nearly demands it. Sadness now. My mind is filling with this junk, this clutter that took me months to effectively push back and eventually discard. And I am left searching for answers that I may never find again.
Can these two worlds coexist. The conflict between the simple and the good vs. the complexities and distractions of life in our "convenient" world. It is a puzzle I will be striving to solve. Meanwhile I attempt to make each day count, instead of counting the days.