I was hiking today and my brain was in sprint mode. My thoughts were like rapid fire, or a film on fast forward. The beauty of the trail halted my mental exasperation. Today was windy and sort of mild. Keene, NY in February- we will take a partly sunny 40-degree day.
The trail was icy. Crampons recommended! Green moss and brown leaves exposed from the lack of snow. The light was coming through the trees and this particular trail had some large boulders. I thought, how beautiful and how different each trail is. How familiar, but different at the same time. A non-outdoor enthusiast’s words rang in my head, "hiking is boring… it's the same thing over and over. Tree, rock, stump, tree, rock, stump." Oh my how wrong that is!!! Each trail is unique. Each trail having an energy all of its own. Seeing the trails in different lights, through various seasons and elements, I have slowly come to realize what it is I love about hiking.
What is it that has me so captivated? I return to the mountains over and over. I bring as many people as I can. I prefer one person at a time. But I share it with anyone willing to come. Why?
The trail is like life. Like human emotion. In a constant state of change. Seasons change, temperature changes, foliage changes, lighting changes, conditions change. Sounds change. We change. Our physical form is changing - always. There is no "summit". No "perfect end state of enlightenment", it's the roller coaster. The elevation dips, the ascent and descent. I am obsessed with the trail with all the challenges, victories, changes...
Accepting the same in my own emotions and life is something happening to me now. There are no constants in life. It is about balance. Are you trying to achieve something? I try to write it in a formula, but there isn't one. There is no perfect balance. It's a constant teetering of opposing forces, rising and falling. If you are trying to achieve any sort of balance in life, acceptance of an ever-changing existence is necessary. Stay humble. Be thankful. And shoot for the moon.
Something about the saying " lower your expectations to be truly happy" has always struck me the wrong way. My philosophy is becoming… take time being humble and thankful, and set the highest expectations you can! You will hit somewhere in the middle. Don't allow yourself to feel too let down or too disappointed if something doesn't go as planned. Things won't go like you planned, so be thankful for everything you learn along the way. The universe has you, you are never alone.
The universe for me can be symbolized by the mountains. At a really young age I found the view of mountains to be simply irresistible. My attention drawn to them like a tractor beam. The mountains, like all things, even the universe, are changing. But these changes are less visible to the human eye. It makes so much sense that throughout my unsettled youth and into a more unsettled young adult life, I'd take refuge in the seemingly constant peaks. Algonquin seeming more like a big sister to me than an eroding mountain. The mountains constantly call to me. Welcoming me in for a closer look at all the intricate parts of the trail that will never stop changing.
Lela Niemetz is a registered dietitian-nutritionist and owner of FoodFeasible LLC, a new company focusing on nutrition for both the mind and the body. In her free time, she enjoys hiking and camping in the Adirondacks.