Last night I was on the trail until 10 pm to set up today's personal goal, walk a marathon.
Twenty-six-point-two PCT miles from the turn off to McDonald's on I-15, I set down my sleeping bag, right next to the trail.
So far my longest day has been about 18 miles, which would also be a personal best. I've never completed a marathon.
If you're doing the math at home, prior to today, I have been hiking 24 days and covered 316 PCT miles. That's about 13 miles a day. If you exclude the two zero mile days, the average bumps up to 14.
My average hiking start time has been about 9 am, with an average finish time around 7 pm. But today I knew I needed to be on the trail earlier. I was hiking by half past six.
Why today? Why a marathon distance?
I'll explain my why, and I'll weave my explanation into a discussion about Essay #1 (The Natural Dichotomy of Government).
WARNING: Adult discussion, not for the easily offended
The choice to hike a marathon today was based on two motivating factors, which combined, created a sufficient personal incentive to set and complete this goal.
I've been eyeing this McDonald's for the last 106 miles. And as the days progressed naturally, I found myself in a position to pull within a marathon distance of McDonald's, purely a coincidence from a conceptual standpoint. But once I was aware of the spacing, I consciously chose to stop 26.2 miles from the turn off to McDonald's.
In Essay #1 I made some bold claims:
1. Abundance is created by the individual and only when an individual is allowed to set their own goals and incentives will they pursue goals lofty enough to provide an abundance to the groups beyond themself.
2. "Groups" live entirely off the abundance created by these individuals.
Walking a marathon does not appeal to me. Walking 25 miles to get a McFlurry doesn't appeal to me either.
But I sure do see that 26.2 sticker on cars these days (signifying the car owner completed a marathon). And I'm out here with 2,300 miles to go. The idea of walking that precise distance and celebrating with a McFlurry did appeal to me.
I created my own personal goal and incentive to complete that goal. Walking 26.2 miles with a quarter of my bodyweight on my back to get a McFlurry might not make sense to a single person on the planet, but the stars aligned in a way to make that incentive relevant to me, today.
As I continue, we'll refer to a McFlurry in a metaphorical sense, as an undefined quantity of wealth.
The only way I was going to eat this McFlurry today was by hiking earlier and farther than I've ever done before. As sufficient personal incentive will always do, I was required to push beyond myself.
(Enter the "Groups")
There are several types of Groups I will cover that represent the functioning groups of our every day society.
If you recall, last night, not a result of any effort of my own, a kind stranger, Coppertone, gave me ice cream.
Group 1 (The Envious)
Now imagine a lactose intolerant group (metaphorically representing the economically disenfranchised), identifies my advantage over the other hikers on the trail. Very few hikers recieved hand delivered ice cream last night.
This lactose intolerant group, with the kind hearted (but misguided) intentions of "leveling the playing field", lobby for federal regulations to limit me to one unit of ice cream every two days, no matter how the ice cream is obtained. Well that just won't work for me, I'm not sufficiently motivated to walk the marathon without a McFlurry.
This is an example of how the Envious can critically limit my personal incentive to the point where no wealth (McFlurry) is created and maybe more importantly, no personal growth is achieved (the marathon). (I'll tie this back in)
Group 2 (The Recipients)
On any given night there may be 10-40 hikers within a 5 miles radius of me. Imagine these hikers get together to voice that, for any number of reasons, they cannot hike to McDonald's today, like me. With the help of the Envious, this Group demands their "fair share" of my McFlurry.
I ask what their fair share of my McFlurry is, to which they respond, "1/3", to be distributed throughout the community, not just them personally. And to complicate matters, if I get a second McFlurry, they demand, "2/5", and "1/2" for a third.
At first I rationalize that there is still sufficient personal incentive to hike a marathon and eat 2/3 a McFlurry, however I'm definitely not paying the incremental cost of a second McFlurry. I'll stop at just one.
But then, the Envious get rowdy and demand 1/3 a McFlurry be distributed to all hikers as a minimum weekly ration.
At this point I stop and think, what's the rush? I'm going to get 1/3 a McFlurry today anyway.
I don't hike the marathon. Therefore no personal growth occurs. No McFlurry is created.
Group 3 (The Delusional)
There is a group that is sure, the only reason I will get my McFlurry today is because of my white male privilege. Period.
Where am I going with this entirely fictional account? How is this useful information to anyone?
I'm trying to reinforce bold claims that abundance comes from the individual and the groups live entirely off that abundance.
Incentive is relative. And the rules governments construct slowly limit individuals conscious choices to go beyond themselves. These limits can actually restrict personal growth in ways that may not even be consciously recognized.
I'm not lying. I would not have walked that marathon today if I was given a government rationed McFlurry. I wouldn't.
And eventually, the government runs out of other people's McFlurry's. This group focused mentality is not sustainable.
People worry about the environment. But there's no climate, no world, worth living in that doesn't have at least one government focused on the individual. And as a country, the only individual focused government, we are rapidly pouring our resources into group focused regulation.
Many of us live comfortable lives here. And the reality is most of us just go through the motions at our jobs, our lives. Many of us are good hearted people, knowing that with a little well directed effort we can keep living the "good life", so we look to "share the wealth" by creating new rules, taxes to help people we think need it. But do these people need our help?
The reality, the people we're "sharing the wealth" with are not motivated by personal incentive either. They're not trying their hardest. They're going through the motions too, just for a lower wage. THERE'S NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT. THERE'S NO PROBLEM TO BE SOLVED. THEY'RE ALIVE.
Look at that family on food stamps, look at that family on rent assistance, are they metaphorically hiking 13 miles a day, or 26.2?
How many who have read this blog up to this point thought I was doing the best I could? (13 miles a day average, 18 max)
I would bet most didn't give that question any thought, but if asked, assumed I was "doing the best I could".
Doing more miles isn't right, doing less miles isn't wrong. Surviving is the bottom line. But the secret to more miles was within me, not in a new rule or a new subsidy. There's nothing any of you could have reasonably done to make me walk a marathon today instead of 14 miles. I had to create that reason for myself.
Many kids from my generation are enthralled with this self proclaimed socialist Bernie Sanders. I find him a disgusting man for one reason:
Socialism is the fundamental admission that the American people are unable to solve their own problems. This is a despicable lie for a reason that should be obvious to elementary school children.
If you arrange the American people into any number of groups, and they can't solve the problem, WHY would a less efficient version of the American people (government employees) be able to be form a group that solves the problem?
Snake oil. A paradox.
The only quicker way to the death of individual freedom than socialism is suicide.
The San Gabriel Mountians are beautiful.
I'm alive in a Best Western at Cajon Pass living the good life. I did my laundry and I smell good.
(For the record I met a couple at McDonald's that walked 24 miles to get there, and a girl my age who walked 23 miles. I've even met two guys who said they were averaging nearly 30 miles a day. I'm not trying to make this out to be some sort of physical achievement of humanity, just a personal accomplishment.)