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Not All Who Wander Are Lost

By Christine Baker
On the Trail, USA

Christine Baker and Jessie
Christine Baker and Jessie

I have a thing for trees; to be specific, beautiful huge trees in the middle of wide-open fields. Every time I see one, it makes me stop and admire the beauty of the natural world. Seeing those trees somehow makes me optimistic about my inner strength and in my ability to really recognize grace and peace in my life. I never would have known this about myself if I had not decided to take six months to hike for my charity, Walk4Good.

When we are small children, we are allowed to explore the shells on the beach or maybe we are taken to a museum or aquarium where we can experience something new. When we are in high school and college, our parents expect us to explore everything from potential careers to other cultures and service learning trips.

Why is it that when we become adults, the time for exploration ceases? It’s as if we set a limit and have this unwritten rule that when you graduate college, you should have your life planned out and you should not deviate from that plan.

On the Trail, Ward Pond Ridge Reservation, NY
On the Trail,
Ward Pond Ridge Reservation, NY

When I decided to take six months to hike for Walk4Good, I knew that I would intentionally take myself completely out of my element, my routine and my comfort zone. I was right. Day-to-day, I never know where I will be, what terrain I will be hiking, what the weather will be like and how comfortable (or uncomfortable) I will be. In the nearly two months since I started, I’ve hiked 500 miles in New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire. I’ve walked on Main streets, side streets, in sand dunes, on muddy trails, down steep cliffs and in beautiful meadows filled with butterflies. And I have learned a thing or two about myself.

Not all who wander are lost. I actually consider myself a pretty grounded person. But in these last two months, I have become reacquainted with the beauty of exploration. As we get older, so many of us become afraid of the unknown. We want stability, comfort and above all, we do love our routines. I am a living testament in the joy of taking a routine and throwing it in the trash.

Did you ever notice that when you take a vacation you talk to more people? Maybe it’s just a passing “Hello”, or perhaps it’s a longer talk at a pub or restaurant. In two months, I have had incredibly powerful and thoughtful conversations with complete strangers. I have connected with people and with nature in ways I never would have imagined when I started this journey. I’ve tested my limits and in many cases, I’ve found my limits. This is incredibly useful information that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

On the Trail, New Hampshire
On the Trail, New Hampshire

For me, it comes down to one simple thought: I do not want to coast through life. I want to shake things up when I can. Maybe I was born to wander. Maybe I was born to always put myself in new situations so I can share my experiences with other people, and in turn, inspire others to look inward at their own lives. Whatever my ultimate purpose in life may be, I know one thing for absolute certain: Not all who wander are lost. Maybe you should try to wander a little bit on your own. You never know what you’ll learn about yourself.

Facebook: walk4good
Twitter: @thewalk4good
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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.

All opinions expressed by Christine Baker are solely her own and do not reflect the opinions of Stay Thirsty Media, Inc.

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