A man in his late 20s, dressed in black, with a medium build that suggests he's earned ten or so extra pounds of muscle on his frame, stands infront of a green screen. His shoulders slumped forward, his right palm fixed to the outside of his left hand, the man displays a stance of respect. At first glance, the face, recognizable amongst my generation as a movie star, looks poised to make an appeal to the tens of millions of viewers who will eventually watch this video short on YouTube.
Standard appeals to the masses are numerous, but this appeal wasn't selected from the socioeconomic cornucopia of digestable rhetoric.
Within the first frames the man infront of the screen, actor Shia Lebeouf, transitions from a postion of respect to a pose of aggression with a single roar, "DO IT! ... Just do it!"
Now flexing with a crescent alignment of his extended arms most resembling a professional wrestler (the TV kind), the actor has the audiences' attention.
Lowering the intensity a notch he continues, "Don't let your dreams be dreams. Yesterday you said tomorrow, so just do it!"
He goes on with the same theme before again ratching the tone up a notch.
"DO IT, just do it. Yes you can!"
What is this guy talking about?
Inbetween he says something in particular that resonates with me, "You should get to the point where anyone else would quit, and you're not going to stop there."
When I reached the U.S. border of Canada on Monday October 24, I had been walking for six months. The walk that started at the U.S. border of Mexico (April 24) was so vast an experience I cannot even recount the major events in a continuous stream of memory.
If you're familiar with the Pacific Crest Trail you'll notice that I did not finish at the official trail monument. Instead I finished at the US/Canada border 15 miles east of the monument, 32 trail miles north of the nearest US road. After Methow Pass, at PCT Mile 2606.9, I took an alternate route to reduce my distance above the heavy snow line by about 20 miles. In the end I walked just over that PCT magic number of trail miles to the border (2,650). The detour at the very end was made with my ultimate goal and ultimate safety in mind.
Without a reference to cite, based on my own feel of the situation, I believe I was the last continuous set of footsteps to reach Canada. The last two weeks of bad weather emptied the trail, encouraging the hikers ahead and behind me to either quit, skip ahead to the border via any means possible, or take an alternate route below the snow line.
Partially a result of dumb luck, partially a result of carrying a pace slower than one required to finish by October 1, I reached the point where anyone else had quit.
Faced with a choice to finish, I approached the final miles to the Canadian border the same way I approached the initial miles to the Mexican border, "Just do it!"
This journey was made possible by countless Americans who either indirectly or directly helped me along the way. For those that plan, negotiate, and maintain the Pacific Crest Trail I express the same gratitude as for those that picked up this bearded white guy with a big bag along side this country's roads, and the same for those who provided me food and shelter.
While this journey played out in symphony with strangers, completing this walk was still my choice. I caution those who believe in a preordained destiny to reflect honestly on what is creating the associated meaning to their actions. This goal of mine was neither easy, nor a life long dream. There was real tangible sacrifice I made to get to the starting line. And by no means was a finish guaranteed. But I decided to just do it, just find a way and just do it..
Sincerely I hope that someday, someone, will read about my take on this adventure and be inspired to just do it, whatever "it" is to them.
I earned this moment to say I had plenty of available cop outs to avoid starting the trail all together. Citing student loans, I don't personally know a soul that would've challenged me if I stayed at my job because I, "didn't have any money." I could've rode that job as an excuse to maintain career stability at a Fortune 500 company. I could've stayed atleast another month, no questions asked, to earn the requisite experience to qualify as a professional engineer. But then I would've missed this year's window to experience the entire Pacific Crest Trail.
And of course physical and mental stresses of the trail would pave the way for a socially acceptable early exit well before the weather got bad...
The actor I referenced to open this post was mocked by most of the general viewing public for his YouTube performance, "Just Do It". But regardless of how the message was recieved, the equation remains that simple. Finding a way may look very different for each of us, but the principle of identifying and surmounting our own obstacles remains the same.
Before reaching San Diego to head off to the Pacific Crest Trail, I drove the Ford Escape I purchased after graduating from college (with money I earned) on one last epic road trip. Even though this car had leather seats, 18" rims, and less than 60,000 miles on the engine, I came to the realization this (delightful) vehicle was not helping me reach my personal goals.
Every penny I got in exchange for this vehicle was spent on the pursuit of the Pacific Crest Trail.
As someone with limited resources, typical of the average American, I'm sharing this with you, not to condemn consumerism or luxury, but as an example of letting go for a purpose. If your resources are limited, take an inventory of your assets and liabilities. Relate them to your goals. And be brutally honest with yourself about what is bringing you closer to your own goals, and what is simply a luxury that may or may not be limiting your potential to reach your own goals. Almost all of us have the ability to answer this question for ourselves, "How is this specifically bringing me quantifiably closer to my own goal?"
Goals aligned with interests and pursued with perserverance become passions. What are you waiting for?
This website isn't called notwaitingtolive.com because of the Pacific Crest Trail. This website bares this name because I have personal goals. And you know what, I'm not waiting. I'm just going to do it.
Stay tuned. The next adventure starts within a week.