Essay #3 was written in such a way that potenially a handful of people may have been able to correctly speculate the identity of a particular individual. The identity of this person and the ways by which they hurt me are not important to the message that I was attempting to convey in Essay #3:
I'm not perfect.
I allowed myself to be hurt by a personal relationship (to the extent that love permits rational decision making). And after enduring an extended period of avoidable heartbreak, I decided to change my circumstances sooner rather than later.
On a long solo drive to Minneapolis in September, with my old circumstances in mind, I decided I could be doing more with my 20s in the freest of all countries during a time of peace. I decided that a new truck, a new job, could wait, and fall back in line behind a new adventure. In order to make this transition happen, I needed to sell my car (thereby liquidating atleast $10K).
What adventure though?
After cycling across America, I set a future goal on an open timeline to canoe the Mississippi by way of the Ohio and Hocking rivers from Ohio University ("The Golf Course to the Gulf Coast"). This could be that time. But having practiced as a water/wastewater engineer after college, I had a better sense of just how dirty that river is. Plus that would only take two months and cost much less than $10K.
Another option, I could buy a van and bum it for a year on the beaches of North and South America! That would eat up my money, but wouldn't be physically enganging enough to really captivate my being.
Backpacking Europe crossed my mind for a moment too. But surely there had to be some unexperienced adventure for me in this country I call home.
And that's when I remembered my college advisor made an unsuccessful attempt at the Pacific Crest Trail in the '90s. There was much less information available then. And starting in the north (something 2% of hikers do today), he and his partner were overwhelmed by snow.
Could I do that? How long does that even take? (Google says 5-6 months)
That was just the chunk of time I was looking for. I didn't know what it cost, but that's what I was going to do.
Right then and there during that car ride to Minneapolis I envisioned and decided I was going to quit my job to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. This wasn't a childhood dream (neither was the bike trip). What happened after the PCT didn't need to be planned. I now knew of a remarkable place to find my fresh start.
Because of the seasonal requirements of the PCT I would continue working for 6 more months despite my decision to hike the PCT in September. And on April Fool's Day, 2016, I quit my job.
Looking forward, I will hold that date with the same reverence I hold my own birthday.
Quitting my job and hiking the PCT has inspired me to put in place a plan to achieve new and longstanding personal goals. An emphasis is placed on the word "plan" because before April 1, 2016, that plan did not exist. And I place this emphasis because, after all, a goal without a plan is just a wish. And I've lived in Cleveland long enough to know wishing doesn't win championships.d
Why did I share all this with you? Quite frankly this is all as much a part of the story as any mountains I climb.
Over the years since my bike trip people have reached out to me in person and over the Internet to let me know that I have inspired them in some way. And many of them wonder how I might have the courage to pursue these adventures. Well for me, things had to go wrong before I took a deeper look at how I was spending my time, my youth. I lost that summer internship before I decided to cycle the US. I wouldn't have made that decision otherwise. And in the case of my latest personal struggle, I may have found a new job without that struggle, but I doubt I would've taken that deeper look at my life this past year and decided the PCT is where I should be right now (and it is).
My two cents, don't wait for things to go wrong before you perform a thorough self evaluation. Year after year re-calibrate your soul. Maybe you're just where you need to be today. Or maybe you're lost.
If you're lost, you need to find a way to make every single day count towards a goal of your choosing (and I'll cover that in a later post).
And if you're a young American like me (26), use this gift of American youth that previous generations paid for with sacrifice. I'm not recommending your throw your life to the wind, I'm pleading that you leverage the advantages this country has to build the life of your choosing. Get off your ass and pursue happiness.
(I love hearing from you all by the way. Don't be afraid to reach out if you want a cheerleader in your corner. I'm eager to lend a helping hand towards your own goals.)
Posts like this are my effort to tell a genuine a story. What you read from me on this site is often bundled up into a clean presentation. You only see the smile. What I'm working with to make that presentation are the pieces of my life that aren't as shiny or as ideal as one might imagine.
I'm a flawed man with my fair share of personal issues. I'll never say I had the roughest life or the toughest challenges. But I will write about the challenges I have had to make my story more relatable. And that way hopefully parts of this story will resonate with some people in a way that will help them believe (KNOW) there's a way to change their circumstances sooner rather than later.