Day 31 – Unconcious Privelege

June 8
Tehachapi to Wind Farm Camp
Mile 566.4 – Mile 587

A whole lot of not much- Mojave panorama

After 30 days on the trail and living out of a backpack, you would think I’d have learned something lasting. I’ve talked before about the trail teaching gratitude and how deprivation makes a good whetstone. Apparently any edge I obtained was short lived and I am embarrassed to say the lessons appear to have fled soon after leaving the trail.


It’s a silly example but yesterday, after being in town for a mere eight hours, I went from “My kingdom for an ice cube!” to “What? The hotel ice machine only has crushed ice? I don’t want to put that in my scotch!” I was chagrined to notice how quickly the expectations of life in the modern world reasserted themselves. I live with so much unconscious privilege and I think maybe bringing that to the trail has made things more difficult.
In another example, I could have been upset that the guest laundry at the hotel was out of order. “Well, how am I going to wash my clothes?” Fortunately, Kevin was coming with a car and we could drive to a laundromat (privilege of family and transportation) but who says I am entitled to clean clothes? Why should there be a grassy flat spot to pitch my tent? Why should water be available at reasonable intervals?

More windmills

During our visit, Joel said something to me about my writing having an undertone of struggle. It got me thinking today that maybe my approach has been the cause. Pitting myself against the trail with all my baggage of expectation creates a struggle that otherwise would not exist. Today I tried simply accepting the trail as it was and not casting it as a challenge to be conquered. My ankles still didn’t the like loose, rocky downhills but my mind was clear and in a much better place.

Remote hills

Awareness of expectation and acceptance of circumstance can go a long way in reducing or even eliminating suffering.
I could have used the insight from my afternoon musing this morning after leaving town and Kevin. Transitioning back to trail mode is tough and a big climb with strong winds buffeting me, did not make it easier. After getting over the ridge the trail joined a rocky ATV track. It was a no fun walk back into a remote pinwheel forest where I camped after making my 20 mile goal.

Same view all afternoon

Here’s hoping that today’s insight takes deeper root and lasts not only the rest of the trail but also back in my privileged life.



9 Replies to “Day 31 – Unconcious Privelege”

    1. Hi Paul, nice to have you here and thanks for the behind the scenes play calling to connect me up with Joel.
      I would actually take the position that most of my privilege in life results from winning the birth lottery and other lucky circumstance. Not to discount the value of hard work but thinking it’s mostly earned is a trap imo. fwiw


  1. Thoughtful post, and I’m better for reading it. I’m embarking on my career sabbatical in 9 days with the family. I will keep in mind your lessons learned, though there is very little struggle planned while wandering around northern and central Italy. Your blog inspired a similar endeavor for my upcoming travels. Thanks for that.


    1. I am excited for you Morgan! Make the most of your time and definitely hike the Cinque Terra. Spectacular!


  2. At least John has his priorties! The right kind of ice for scotch is pretty important. Nice post, maybe another couple thousand miles and crushed ice will take on new meaning


  3. Great perspective and that magical word – expectations. I do agree that you don’t want crushed ice in your scotch. I mean c’mon!


  4. “Today I tried simply accepting the trail as it was”
    I’d say “THIS TRAIN” John!!!
    Thunder’s rolling down the tracks.
    You are onboard! And dreams will not be thwarted!


  5. John–I so thoroughly admire your drive to do this trek and learn what you might about yourself and values in life. However, I implore you to consider certain limits. The issue is not cubed versus crushed ice. For you see my friend, if the whisky were of sufficient quality, the ice debate becomes moot!


    1. Touché Gary. You would also be horrified to know we were drinking out of those plastic cups that come wrapped in the bathroom. But ah, blissful nonetheless.


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