Several weeks ago, Adam and I came huffing and puffing to the top of Mt. San Jacinto, in Palm Springs- we encountered a guy with solar panels set up, his sleeping bag airing out and a zip lock bag full of a mush looking type of food he was preparing for himself while sitting on the deck of a shelter. This incredible guy is Chris. He is hiking the Pacific Crest Trail with several additional add on trail loops. Roughly 7,000 miles! Woah! I couldn't ask enough questions. Since I had just read "Wild" within the year I felt as though I had a little insight into those who take these long hiking treks ;) A couple things that I will never forget him sharing with us;
- Night Eyes!!! Yes, I have been on an early morning run when a cat crosses my path with glowing eyes and I admit I do typically jump. Chris described this sensation times a million- being in the middle of the wilderness, by yourself, with endless amounts of golf ball sized glowing eyes peering right. at. you!!! Eeck! Not knowing what animal it is, you're alone, and in their territory. I would be deeply afraid! He shared there are times when he is so fatigued, he too spins himself into a tizzy, disrupting his opportunity to sleep and rest. This is the time to use a mantra, utilize breath, focus on the fresh air or natural pine tree scent- allowing yourself to be with those scary night eyes.
- Chris also shared about the power of the trail. He reflected on our current American lifestyle in which we typically distract ourselves with television, cell phones, food, substances, gossip, etc. On the trail, Chris described coming face to face with his demons, his fondest memories and all of his emotions, without any escape except to be with it. Wow! Profound, right? He is doing some real soul work. He can't escape things that arise within him, even if he wants to.
As Adam and I began our descent down the mountain we reflected on our time with Chris. Both feeling refreshed and inspired. In what ways can we lean in to fear, discomfort, emotions and avoid distracting ourselves from being in the moment. It was a reminder that we don't get to elect to numb certain emotions. If we turn away from fear and discomfort we are conditioning ourselves to also turn away from joy and excitement. At that moment in time I became even more deliberate in noticing my thoughts, what are they telling me? I am the only one that can hear them. Is it a message I want to endorse, or not? How am I am feeling? What emotions are currently occupying my body? Ensuring that I am able to identify the emotions, all of them, and how they are correlated to my thoughts and behaviors. This is my opportunity to lean in to them. I may not be on an epic hike, like Chris, however I am dedicated to living by the wisdom he shared- allowing myself to come face to face with the unknown, the uncomfortable, my shame, my excitement, my joys. For each one of those components make me who I am and are my pulling force in life. Cheers to you, Chris. I hope our trails cross again!