People talk a lot about post-trail depression. Check this out, for example:
“ It is very real, and should not be taken lightly. Hikers have even taken their lives in the months following their thru-hikes. It is a good idea to consider how you’ll manage your mental well-being after coming off a long distance trail well before the time is upon you.”
‘Just 2 Hikers’-
Sheesh, talk about first-world problems and all. Once we came off the trail, all I was considering was how many garden vegetable pies it would be socially acceptable to consume in one sitting. And besides, towards the end of our BNT adventures, we were so tired and homesick that I presumed we wouldn’t possibly be afflicted by such a phenomenon as PTD.
And we weren’t. Well, not at first anyway. Everything about being home was wonderful- familiar faces, soft beds, warm kitchens, crunchy veggies in the fridge. But as responsibilities and routines crept in once more, I began to feel a few pangs for the BNT simple life. Not exactly yearnings, but the kind of pangs you might feel when an old song comes on the radio and takes you back to a different place. And if you happen to be standing in front of the washing machine, contemplating the exciting prospect of putting on another load, chances are you’ll want to be back THERE. And just before I have a chance to throw myself onto the cold cement floor in a flood of tears, Eat-Pray-Love style, the feeling passes. And I’ll go and make another cup of tea and promise myself a backyard campfire this weekend. So, yeah…. it’s all good.
A while ago, I asked some fellow ex-trekkers whether or not they missed the BNT or found it hard to adjust back to ‘real life’.
“You have to have a new goal. You just need to keep busy and focus on the next thing,” I was told.
So, in the spirit of moving right along, here are my goals for 2017…
No ‘work’, no welfare
I have worked in teaching since the age of eighteen, and this is the year I have decided not to do it anymore. Don’t get me wrong- I love it. Teaching has gotta be one of the best professions out there. It is challenging, keeps you thinking, demands creativity, you get to hang out with kids all day (which usually involves equal parts hilarity and enlightenment) and the holidays are not to be sniffed at either.
But for me, teaching has got to the stage where it feels comfortable and safe- I know how to do it, and have been for years. I may go back to it one day, but I’d like to be able to bring something new to the table. So its time to try something else. Something I’m a little intimidated by…
According to Joseph Chilton Pearce, to live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.
For me, part of this is having NO SAFETY NET. They say that money will come when you are doing the right thing, so I’ll be turning down any welfare/ Centrelink payments to really put this theory to the test.
This will hopefully be an incentive to really ‘ hustle’- to work hard, play hard, to desire, ask, believe, receive. Work-wise so far, so far I’ve been writing, tutoring, helping out in a vegetable garden, giving sewing machine lessons, selling crocheted sandals… and more writing.
To summarise, I just love this:
Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what next or how. The moment you know how, you begin to die a little. The artist never entirely knows. We guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark.
-Ages de Mille-
In many ways, life on the BNT felt like that- like a series of leaps in the dark. So, the journey of trust and learning continues…
2. Try something scary with horses.
I am a big believer in trying things that scare the crap out of me. Public speaking. Surfing. The supermarket at after-school pick-up time. Okay, well maybe nothing quite as extreme as that. On the BNT, people would often comment that I must have been pretty brave. Um, no. I wasn’t. In fact, I am a total wimp and was scared out of my wits half the time. All the more reason to keep going with it- if you aren’t feeling something, you aren’t growing as a person. So this year, I am as yet undecided as to which of the following I will be trying…
a.) Horseback archery
b.) Horse wakebaording
c.) Competing in a (little, tiny) showjumping competition.
d.) Training an OTTB
I am petrified at the thought of all four, so any will do. And speaking of scary….
3. Write a book.
At the moment, It’s feeling like giving birth, but I’m sure I’ll get there in the end….
4. Teetotal it for 2017.
When I wasn’t on the trail, I was actually a pretty big drinker. But I’ve been surprised at how clear-headed and ‘clean’ Ive felt drinking relatively little alcohol while on the BNT. So I’m ditching the stuff for the whole year, cold turkey- no ‘its a special occasion’ or ‘its only mid-strength’ excuses for me.
5. Stay fit.
I am not a gym person, I live out of town, don’t have hours of spare time to hike around any more, and am unfortunately not much of a team sports player, so I’m taking up trail running. Loving it so far, at least when my niggly walking injury isn’t bothering me.
6. Plan the next trek.
We are still recovering from the last one, so this is just the seed of an idea. But horse/ donkey trekking seems to gets in your blood.
So, I’m thinking…. South West WA…. 2018… 2000km-ish…. 4 months… Spring/ early summer… 3-4 horses…..possibly involving a dog… ’reccy’ the whole thing this time and do food drops… possibly to raise funds for horse rescue…. possibly bareback and involving lots of walking…
Hmmm… Looks like its gunna be another big year 🙂