I am participating in the 31 Days of Free Writes October challenge. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. (Confession: I *may* not be able to resist spell-checking!)
Editor’s note: I decided to do something different today and present my post via Facebook live (and then transcribe it). Here’s the link if you want to hear/see.
Today’s prompt: Listen
Today we’re talking about the word listen which is an act that touches on every part of our lives.
Several things have come to mind as I’ve thought about how I might address this topic. The thing that most comes to mind is the book that I am listening to right now. It’s called AWOL on the Appalachian trail and it’s one man’s account of his trip as a through hiker up the AT.
He quit his job, was tired of sitting at a desk and had talked with his wife about the two of them doing the trail when they retired, but one day he said “what if I did it now?” and she said “go for it.”
SHE is a saint because they had at the time three young daughters. But I also think it’s a very loving thing to do to recognize when someone needs to achieve a particular goal and say “go for it” — to deal with the financial part of him not working, with him being away for — I don’t know how long — I’m still in the middle of the book. Nine months let’s say — to complete the trail.
But he did it.
One of the things that he commented on was how he chose specifically not to take any kind of iPod — or things to listen to.
He. is. on. the. trial.
He listens to nature, to his fellow hikers, and he talks occasionally about that choice, the fact that he gets passed by people who totally ignore him because they’re lost in their own world — they’re listening to music or a book or whatever and they’re not interacting with him.
Not that that’s a bad thing, but he, I think, seems to appreciate for himself the fact that he is that attuned to nature. It also matters because it enables him to listen to things like .. BEAR .. bears approaching… and wildlife.
There definitely takes a certain amount of situational awareness on the trail that it seems to me that having earbuds in would detract from … and those of us who have been runners know all about situational awareness. And I was terrible about that because I was always listening to music or a book.
But the other things that to me ties into that choice not to always have something in your ears is…it gives….he’s got nine months to process his life without that kind of flow of someone else’s music or ideas or thoughts into his head.
And there’s a Bible verse that I grabbed five minutes ago (because I wanted to have something in case I couldn’t think of anything to say!). But it really does apply. It’s from Jeremiah. And it says, “Then you will call on me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”
People who are on the Appalachian Trail — I don’t know this because I have never set foot on the Appalachian Trail sadly — but I have a very good friend who has spent excessive time there and I have read several books. And I think it’s safe to say there’s a degree of searching that is going on among people who have chosen to do a through hike especially.
This author talks about the fact that people are going through divorces, they’re going through job loss. They’re going through some transition.
OR they just got out of high school or college and they’re searching for what’s next, so choose to do the trail as a way of finding that or getting in touch with what it is they want.
But I think when you choose to listen to someone else’s words or music — which I love — I’m definitely not advocating against that. But I know it’s hard for me to just go out and walk without putting in my earbuds. And I think that maybe there’s something about the process of walking without music that enables that search to happen, that enables your brain to process things differently.
I have frankly — I know there are all kinds of issues with the trail — it’s not just communing with nature. It’s difficult, there are rats (editor’s note: they were mice to be specific!) in the cabins, there are all kinds of things.
But I’m envious of his opportunity to, to be with his head, to be with his heart, and to do that searching.
I think it’s something we could all afford to do.