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Finding Contrast

A VMI Brother Rat (AKA classmate), Pete, is more than 1,000 miles into his 2,170-mile Appalachian Trail thru-hike. I am so inspired and more than a little intrigued. I want to do that! I want to experience everything about it, I can’t get the idea out of my head. I know it would not be all blue skies and easy trails, and in a strange way, it is the hardships that somehow intrigue me the most. God knows what that really says about me. I like to think it’s because life has taught me that without the valleys we could never have the peaks in life.

But, maybe that day has already passed me by. It’s not because I will be 64 before I could even start the trail. That doesn’t bother me. Maybe it should. The issue is my vision. I am legally blind in my right eye. In my left eye, I have a tiny field of nearly normal vision; only about 4 degrees. The rest of my left is just like my right. For all intents and purposes, I have only my peripheral vision to rely on. When it comes to attempting a thru-hike on the AT, that might pose a hardship that, combined with everything else. is more than I want to take on.

I share this, not to solicit sympathy. I am truly blessed. My life isn’t perfect, but I would not trade it for anyone else’s. I am completely convinced that I can complete the AT. Perhaps that is ignorance or arrogance, but I have little doubt that, if I commit myself, I will be successful - commit being the operative word.

Right now I am intrigued, not committed. I don’t know if I am “supposed” to hike the AT, but I do want to understand more about the calling before even thinking about a commitment. Who knows what I could learn in the process? Maybe only that I would rather not pick up a backpack. Maybe a lot more.

Maybe I will start with a few segments of the Colorado Trail before buying a ticket to Georgia. After all, the last time I backpacked, I was a Marine and I carried a canvas backpack. Okay, not canvass, but it was a long time ago.

I can’t help but wonder if it’s the contrast in life that I really cherish - hard times and good times. I have certainly had more than my share of both.

Whatever I learn, thank you Pete for the inspiration!

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