Not all those who wander are lost.
J. R. R. Tolkien
Everybody has dreams – a good job, plenty of money, a great family, a world that works together. This list goes on and on however you choose it to. The fact is though, you should never let go of your dreams no matter how little or big they are. They give you the motivation to keep going forward and hopefully, success as you define it. Dreams may change over time and others take their place but each little achievement towards the goal makes you better and stronger.
In my younger years, all I wanted to do was be a farmer on my family’s farm. I loved the land, truly loved the land. For years I mentioned it but thought it fell on deaf ears. So I started college, found a job, quit school and starting working full-time. And so it goes. However, I still mentioned my want of being a farmer. “You’re doing good,” was the answer I received. So I kept working, changing jobs a few times as opportunities arose, lucky enough to have a few jobs that I thoroughly enjoyed.
However, I still mentioned my want to be a farmer. Finally, finally, after all these years, I was told how sorry it was that I had not been included in the family farm because it was realized that it was what I dreamed of and there was no doubt I needed the land I loved. I found out then about the legal agreement which forbid it and was told that should never have been put in place to begin with. Too little, too late as I needed to learn the finer points of farming decades ago. Even though the dream itself was not achieved, the want, need, desire for it was what kept the dream alive. The dream is gone now because of time and death but it’s still nice to know I could have made it if things had been different.
Nineteen years ago, I lived in the mountainous area far from the Eastern Shore. I walked up and down hills, enjoying the moments, getting in good shape by climbing up and down those grades. Plus, kiddo and I walked a lot of places instead of driving (actually, he either biked it or roller-bladed it… another story in itself). Unknown to me, I was really getting into shape from all the up/down walking. Then, for some unknown reason, I decided I wanted to run. Yes, another dream. Since the internet was not really available and useless anyway since we didn’t have a computer, I wore a watch and counted steps. (Come to find out, that’s exactly what some of the running websites tell you how to start). Walk X amount of steps then run X amount of steps. Should do it only three or four times a week but I didn’t do that. Sore! So the only thing to make it better was to go back out and do it again. Stretched all those hurting muscles and the pain was almost gone after the second run.
Kiddo would bike or roller-blade with me as I found the highest hills to climb. The first time I made it to the top of the road by the courthouse, I was Woo Hooing as loudly as I could. Two deputies outside was wondering if something was wrong and I yelled, “I made it to the top without having to stop!”
I felt strong. I felt good. I looked forward to late afternoon each day to do it all over again….. from one end of town to the other using only my two legs. Dream fulfilled and still, I kept on running, loving the endorphins.
I walked and hiked all over the place before moving away from the Eastern Shore but the real test was climbing up and down mountain trails. Up and down; up and down we went, strenthening the legs and lungs even more. We’ve climbed to summits only to get there and see an even taller mountain in the distance. Sometimes we had a friend along and we’d hike all day. Made it to the actual Trail of Tears and the Appalachian Trail, something truly special to me. That’s where another dream came to be.
I made a choice to move back to the Eastern Shore to help out a loved one that needed me but never forgot my friends, living the slow-paced mountain life and the Appalachian Trail. Twenty years ago I read the book, “Walk Across America,” by Peter Jenkins. That started it all. I could do that. I wanted to do that. I needed to do that. Except it had to be the Appalachian Trail. However, all the good things I worked towards while living in the mountains left when we returned to the Eastern Shore and entered into the fast-paced lifestyle and being once again with the people who just ‘did not have time’ or ‘did not like to hike.’ So different than what I had been used to and quite an adjustment, with the thought of how I managed to live in this part of the world for so much of my life?
But the Appalachian Trail had hit the dream bucket, no way around it. The only way to do it is to just do it. It will take a lot of training to get my body in shape to do a dream this big but I will do the best I can even if it kills me. I know I won’t ever be able to thru-hike like I wanted to so I’ll settle for section hiking. It might take a while but I’ll eventually make it from place to place, knowing I’m working to achieve another dream… in the woods. My church.
The training has already started with many miles of serious hiking here recently. The next thing is a trip to the mountains with a tent and the doggie. I have to relearn how to walk up and down hills at the same steady place because it’s easier going uphill than going downhill, get my lungs in shape and figure out exactly what it needed for these section trips.
There are other dreams out there I’ve achieved….. and lost, but at least I succeeded at some regardless of how they ended.
I know there are people that have no desire to experience anything outside of their own life and that quite all right. That’s their dream and nothing is wrong with that. However, there are others that have dreams that are a little different than some and that’s quite all right, too.
Whether farming, running, hiking or anything else that can be dreamed up, all I can say is keep your dreams close. Change what you need to because life is always about change but make sure you do your best to achieve your dream, even part of it. You’ll love the feeling of achievement.