Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The weight

E and I drove down to Seattle yesterday to pick up SK's car.  SK and her two closest now-college-graduate-"We have BA's, world, and that stands for Bad-A_ _" (as they said!) girlfriends are taking a celebratory roadtrip down the coast of California, via Las Vegas (I think...). It was good to see her for a rather frenetic lunch.  I say frenetic because she and her friend were a bit hard to follow conversationally as they relived the last week of saying good-bye to a life they loved.  Lots of inside jokes, as is always the case with young women who have lived in the same space for so long their very bodies take on the same rhythm.  They hated to leave but are looking forward to this next adventure, both in the short term (the road trip) and the long term (the jobs and internships they have waiting for them in the fall). Many of their friends have such large question marks at the end of their rental leases they decided to stay in Spokane at least another year so they can continue with the close community they've so loved.  This was not for SK and these two friends.  No way, no how were they going to put their lives on hold for another year.  They loved college and Spokane was fine while it lasted, but it's over now.

This isn't to say they don't have some fears about the future.  Of course they do.  They wouldn't be human if they didn't.  An unknown future always makes us a little anxious.  It can twist us into knots if we let it.  But better to admit it to ourselves and God than to stay put in a safe place because we're too afraid to take a wrong step.  Right?

On the way home yesterday, I was listening to NPR, and there was an interview with a woman whose sport is competitive speed hiking.  I'd never heard of such a thing before, and it actually goes against what I instinctively thought was the purpose of hiking.  I didn't think it was to cover as much ground as possible as quickly as possible, but to walk slowly and purposely, somewhat contemplatively so as to enjoy the natural world.  This woman, when asked this, claims that speed hiking is absolutely contemplative, it just takes more hours fewer breaks in a day.  She starts at 4 AM, stops for a ten-minute lunch and hikes until 9 PM.  Other than that, she simply walks, though 'sometimes the trails tells [her] to run.' Then she eats, goes to sleep and starts all over again. She holds the women's record for hiking the Appalachian trail, on which she averaged 36 miles per day.  Her top day was something like 48.  My dad used to take his scout troops on 50-mile-hikes and it would take an entire week to do it.  So her pace is unbelievable.  And yes, she carries a pack, and the terrain is harsh going at places, and...well, it's a hike, after all.  Not for the faint of heart.   After that winning hike in 2008, she got to thinking of what she could have done differently and decided to try for the over-all record this coming summer, on which she'll have to average 45 miles per day.  "Can you do it?" the interviewer asked her.  "I wouldn't be trying if I didn't think I could," she answered.

I was driving drop-jawed, I can tell you that.  I don't have a whole lot of interest in slow, 3 mile per day hikes that my dad always wanted me to go on.  So this is anathema to me. Really.  It was like staring at a strange animal in a zoo, to listen to her love and passion and compulsion to hike, and hike so quickly.

But at the end of the interview she was asked what she worries about.  And she gave this answer:
"Fear is weight on the trail.  Fear of exposure means carrying too many clothes. Fear of starvation means carrying too much food. Fear of violence means carrying a weapon.  It's the fear that weighs a person down."

Profound, huh?  What do we carry that weighs us down? What do we hold on to that makes our journey harder to take, and the going rougher?   We must identify the fear, I think, in order to let go of the weight that keeps us from the pace of life that God intends for us.  So what is it for you?

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