By Christine Baker
Nyack, NY, USA
Christine Baker and Jessie
When I talk to people about hiking the Appalachian Trail, all 2,180 miles of it in every imaginable weather condition, I am usually met with a look of utter disbelief and a response of “why on earth would you want to do that?” Most people feel the need to remind me how heavy my pack will be (30 or so pounds in fact) and about how difficult it will be to walk 10-15 miles per day carrying that kind of weight on my shoulders.
Yes, trust me, I know full well the challenges of this trip. But I ask you this - what’s really the difference between my backpack and the burdens you are carrying around every day?
Are you like Atlas, already carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders? The stress of day-to-day living, paying bills, making ends meet, not being good enough or smart enough or fast enough weigh you down just like my backpack. The challenges in your relationships with your families, partners, friends and co-workers weigh like a 60-pound pack on your shoulders to begin with. So really, in the whole scheme of things, my 30-pound backpack is probably lighter.
How often do you allow yourself to just be YOU - to not worry, not think, not stress, not try to be someone you are not, and most importantly not feel like you should be doing something else? In this era of uber-connectedness, how often can you really say you got away from it all and re-charged your batteries?
Let me carry your burden. Let me take on your worries, your heartache, your stress and frustration to relieve you from it for just a while. That is my purpose, and the ultimate hope for Walk4Good. I may not be able to walk a mile in your shoes, but I can walk a mile in my own shoes in the hopes that it inspires you to look at your own life differently. I can walk the entire Appalachian Trail to help you understand that your life will change if you change someone else’s life; that when you practice kindness for others, someone will do the same for you.
This morning I took a pre-dawn training hike with my dog, Jessie. We walked in the early light, each carrying our packs weighed to the max. We had the entire trail to ourselves, and the only sounds we heard were the leaves crunching under our feet. I stopped for a moment and thought: this is exactly what I should be doing in this moment. I’m not worried about anything; I am simply walking forward. This I can do for 2,180 miles over six months. I can just walk and be. And that will be enough.
My feet only walk forward. That’s how I was wired. There is a reason why our eyes face forward. It’s to see the coming sunrise and the possibility of a new day.
Christine Baker is the founder of Walk4Good and president of CB Creative, Inc., an integrated communications consulting firm in Nyack, NY. She is the author of Why She Plays: The World of Women's Basketball (University of Nebraska Press 2008), and was inducted into the Middletown, Connecticut Sports Hall of Fame in January 2011.