Another important thing I learned in my "Tennessee Trek" was the importance of "being present". I will explain in a moment but wanted to let you know that I'm not just writing these things because I'm "filled" with my adventure but because I think they are important issues for us all to embrace and consider. So often, we look at things or hear phrases (like "epic" and "awesome") and we don't think about what the words really mean. I would still write these posts even if I didn't tell you that they came from Vol State (the official name for my Tennessee Trek).
"Being present" is one of those phrases for me. I would hear it a great deal (especially in the mind-body-nutrition/psychology of eating course I'm taking - more to come about that later in the summer). But even though I professed to believe it, I didn't really absorb what it meant. I could intellectually take it on as mine but until it's emotionally adopted, the true meaning is lost.
While being so alone on the road in Tennessee, I was able to experience one part of the meaning of "Be Present" - being with yourself. Other than the minute or so I interacted with my crew guy (good ole Marvin - I bet he wished it only were a moment or two), I was with myself most of 5 or 6 of the 10 days. When you have no one else to interact with, you're forced to examine yourself and discuss things with yourself - even if it's just the cacophony of sounds you hear. I had many conversations at night about how it was the "country" and I didn't think it wasn't supposed to be so noisy in the country. And you don't want to know about my conversations with the Roosters.....LOL. So, I learned to go deep inside many times. Sometimes that was painful but most of the time it was illuminating and I'm grateful for that time. I hope I can do it next year (still very doubtful that I can but I want to....only if Diane is there though) so that I can do even deeper.
The other (and I think more important) part of "Being Present" is living in the now. As I was trying to make it through the painful days, I realized that it was doing no good to "hope" for the finish or think about the 10th day or the finish or going home or anything like that. If anything, all that would have done is create more discouragement and depression since I would then be thinking about something that was a long way off. Why do that to myself? I found out that it was more useful to simply think about what was going on right now all around me and concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other. It didn't matter how many more miles there were to go. If I was going to finish this - and I was determined to do so until the last 16 miles - it was going to require that I just concentrate on continuing to move forward. So I paid attention to moving my feet and legs and then to the surrounding area and its beauty. I only wish I had had my camera with me (additional weight - ugh) and had time to stop and take photos. I was so pushed for time that I didn't even feel comfortable stopping to take the photos (if I get to do this next year, I should use the GoPro like Dave did -
Click Here to Play Video
video of our experience if you're interested) even for a short time. Too much pressure I put on myself but as you can tell by my finish time, there was very little time to spare.
I became completely aware that the past has already happened and there is nothing that can change it. All that can be done with the past is to savor it or to learn from it. That is the big advantage if you can look at the past objectively and see what there is to learn, if anything. And even more acutely I absorbed the fact that the future will never come. Why sit around and say "when I finish, this will happen or I'll feel that...etc". Do it NOW. I've been learning that in the psychology of eating course but it really hit home those 10 days. Since I've been home I've applied that principle too whenever I've thought something negative was going to happen in the future. I then center myself and bring myself back to the present and simply say "be present" and "be in the present". That has prevented negative vibrations and thoughts from persisting.
I'm so grateful I had this experience for many reasons and this is one of the most important lessons. What if something happens? Tomorrow won't get here so why think about it. Try to live the fullest you can right now!
Think about this and see where you're living. Do you use the "When this happens, I'll feel that?" or "When this happens, that will happen?" The most common expression of this is how we experience our work week. What does everyone say on Monday (and then every day after) "I can't wait til Friday" or "2 more days til Friday" or something similar. Why not live EACH and every day to the fullest. It's all you really have. It's ok to have goals but work on things that will make you happy each day while you are achieving different parts of the goal. Rejoice in them. Rejoice in whatever you experience each day - gratitude will bring more of whatever you're grateful for.
Try it. It will make you a different person!