Is Deciding to Go an Accomplishment?

Is Deciding to Go an Accomplishment?

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it;
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.

– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The response to my announcement that I will be hiking the 367-mile Oregon Coast Trail has included a lot of “congratulations.” But congratulations for what? I haven’t done anything yet; I have simply decided to do it. Congratulations should only come when I finish my hike.

On the other hand, I am not just daydreaming about a hike: I have interrogated myself to make sure that I wouldn’t be making a frivolous announcement and then, soon after, retracting my embarrassing words. I have meticulously schemed for weeks before unveiling my plan. I have built intricate spreadsheets for everything from mileage to supplies. I am walking and hiking and lifting weights in preparation. I have recruited some hiking buddies. By the time I made my announcement, I was committed.

I suppose that combination of commitment and creativity deserves some congratulations. I have put in a lot of work to be ready for this trip. Moreover, deciding to embrace a dream is both a good choice and an uncommon path. To be clear, it is a path that everyone can travel, if they put their mind to it, but it is not the path that everyone chooses.

Some of my discomfort with being congratulated stems from the fact that what I am doing shouldn’t be so uncommon. I think that everyone should pursue what sets their heart on fire and sets their soul free. It doesn’t matter if it is a hike the entire length of Oregon, or cooking gourmet meals, or creating beautiful paintings. What matters is that you know who you are and that you pursue what allows you to shine.

When someone is pursuing their passion, it is beautiful. But is it brave or worthy of congratulations? I’m not sure. It is important, of course. Vitally important. Because it is what one needs to do to live. I’m not talking about breathing oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide and going to work and punching the clock and going home to watch TV and falling asleep on the couch and waking up at 6 am to do it all over again. I’m talking about living – authentically, unabashedly, and fully. In this vein, to me, a long solo hike isn’t scary, but the idea of getting to the end of my life and finding that I did not live how I wanted is terrifying.

I am doing this long walk because I need to, and I want to, and I don’t have anything holding me back. In fact, I have something pulling me towards this hike. I have honestly no choice but to go.

I cannot imagine another way to move forward from the challenges I have been facing. I cannot imagine what else I would spend my time on in the next 45 days. I cannot imagine feeling like myself again without this hike. Nothing other than this 367-mile path will do.

So yes, I am choosing a healthy way forward. I am pursuing my truth. I am happy I have made these choices, I am excited to begin my trek, and I am thankful that I have a lot of people in my life who are happy for me. But it was a natural decision for me, and to be congratulated for doing something that feels natural is an odd sensation.

So thank you for the congratulations, but the best way to show appreciation for what I am doing is to find your own path, and to experience it fully. It doesn’t have to be a literal path, though those are always a good way to get your head straightened out. My point is simply this: Go forth and live.

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