Late 2011, I was less than one week away from ending my own life……It took a couple of perceptive people to realize something had changed in me and they had the courage to approach me. They ensured I got the help that I needed and I am here today because they chose to act. It has been a challenging process to climb my way out of the levels of depression I sank to. I still climb and press forward on a daily basis, but now I know I am not alone.
Looking back, I can now see that I ended my own life many years prior. I chose nothingness over life. I was satisfied with just eating whatever tasted good, playing video games, watching TV, and sleeping. The acceptance of that life being “happy” or “normal” took me down the path of obesity, misery, depression, and nearly into the grave way too soon. That life, and I use the word loosely, was MY “couch”. The place I resided instead of actively being on the path of life finding true happiness through experiences…I will call it the “Trail”.
Over the last couple of years of counseling, I faced difficult realities of my past, as well as my present, and realized I had to make the decision on my own to live a life with purpose. It was my obligation to find my passions and go after things to fully experience life.
This is when I was lead to hiking. My counsellor suggested I take a camera and enter nature. Through our talks, I revealed that I used to love exploring in the woods as a child. It was my personal sanctuary away from all of the abuse for being the “fat kid”. At first, it was photos less than a mile in on any trail close to my house. I decided I wanted to start getting photos from ridgelines and other elevated overlooks. I was roughly 375 pounds at this time and it was not an easy task to lug my mass up a mountain. Even switchbacks offered minimal psychological encouragement when I realized I was stopping again after roughly 50-100 feet of travel. Even though I felt like each step was bringing me closer to having a heart attack, I was hooked. I was not only hooked on hiking, but I was also hooked on the choice to live life, not choose to take mine every again.
Life is a long journey. Life has many ups and downs. Sometimes pointless ups and downs “PUDS” are added. (Inside joke to hikers……especially AT hikers) Sure, we can get off the trail any time we want. (I nearly did in 2011) We might get taken off the trail by external things like bears, injuries, or poor preparation. (In real life it could be car accidents, murder, etc.) But staying until the end allows you to live the whole journey. I must live and I must finish at my appointed time.
I have no idea when my appointed time will be. I will leave that up to my God for Him to decide. Over the last couple of years, I have been drawing closer to God. I held, and in some cases still hold, a lot of anger and sadness toward Him. However, even with those hurt feelings, I press forward. Like Adam walking with God in the Garden of Eden, I enjoy my walks with God on my hikes. With my crazy life, hiking is the one time where my mind can clear and I can listen to Him without the noise of life drowning Him out.
I continue to shed physical weight from hiking……but, the most weight I am loosing is the emotional and spiritual weight which has been chained to my back for so many years. Most times it is painful when I have one rip free, but knowing I can leave it behind brings more hope and peace to my soul.
I close with this. Hiking has literally saved my life. I have an activity I love to do. But, for me, hiking while meditating on my faith is healing my soul. May whoever reads this find the same love I have for hiking and the hiker community.
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