Leaving my love, my family, my life for ~5 months to again attempt the PCT has been harder to justify this time around. “It’s been your dream, go for it”, “Seize the day!”, “Good for you”, “I’m jealous, wish I could go too”, “Godspeed” were common refrains heard before leaving last year. This year, more disbelief joined the happy trails. “You’re going back to start over?”, “From the beginning?”, “Why do the desert again?” “You said the scenery of first 700 miles had little to recommend”, “Don’t do it”, “Wait, what?”
As luck would have it, a recent piece in the New York Times Sunday Review points to the answer of ‘why?’ better than I ever could. In his article The Tyranny of Convenience, Tim Wu points out the value of choosing a hard path. “We must never forget the joy of doing something slow and something difficult, the satisfaction of not doing what is easiest.” Through struggle you can find “the solution to the question of who you are.” I’d encourage everyone to consider what Wu has to say. His words certainly ring true for me.
I of course love my life, I love my wife, and often wonder about being the lucky one who has won life’s cosmic lottery. Relative to most in this world, my life is unimaginably easy and comfortable. For that I am immensely grateful. I also seem to find joy in tackling arbitrary challenges, completely contrived and meaningless in the big picture, but from which I source great personal satisfaction. “I going to run the New York Marathon”, “I’m going to climb Mount Rainier”, “I’m going to run around Green Lake 60 times in 60 days”, “I’m going to do an Ironman”, “I’m going to thru hike the Pacific Crest Trail” … Channeling my inner JFK, I ‘choose to do these things not because they are easy but because they are hahd’ 😊
The payoff is getting to know myself as someone who can do whatever I choose. Admittedly self-indulgent and more costly this year than last, I return to the PCT in 2018 because I can and also to see if I can wring more self-discovery from the experience. I’m pretty sure there’s not much juice without a good squeeze.