I look down the ridge at the darkened black woods scattered in the valley contrasting neatly with the crisp white houses centered in lime green grass fields. The clouds cover any hint of sun yet the temperature is far from bitter.
My feet cry from the seven-hundred miles of beating on rocks and roots. My back screams from the months of load bearing. My stomach, even when fat and full yells to me “Is that all you got?” I’m always cold and usually wet. But if you asked me, I’d respond “I’m happier than I’ve ever been.”
I look down into the valley at the rushing interstate, splitting neighborhoods, splitting woods, splitting mountains, splitting lives. Those bored people on that boring road with bleak colors drive to their boring jobs and live their boring lives.
In Fahrenheit 451, Clarisse asks “Are you happy?”
If Maine is birth, and Georgia is death, then why take the highway, the speedway? The man says “Oh yeah this road’ll cut fifteen miles off your hike!”
But you say “Maine is not birth and Georgia for sure is not death”
And I respond “The hike is transition. When you hike, you live in transition.” I say “Many people come to the trail and are reborn, interstate dwellers, the map quest fury: 24 hours 5 minutes, 1402.27 miles. “Yeah and if I stay on that road to Blacksburg, VA it will cut nearly six hundred miles off my hike!”
“Maine is the beginning of life for many, recognition of the adventure that awaited them ever since the first light. And Georgia is the death of the idea of normalcy and pattern.
“So yes those people in the valley will sleep in their beds tonight. And yeah they have a knob they turn to dictate what degree temperature the house will be. But I promise you, they’ll sleep no better than me, and that extra twist from seventy-two to seventy-four will feel no better than my sleeping bag. And I guarantee you that they will complain more if that degree is not right or their sleep was without pleasant dreams.”
For comfort and pleasure do not dictate happiness. That comes with adventure, growth, and discovery.
And the fool who sleeps in the woods, I still say “I’m happier than I’ve ever been.”