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Friday, May 27, 2011

Life in the Ordinary: A follow-up consideration to my recent hike on the AT

So while I was reading what I had written recently about the my AT hike - specifically about it being something other than ordinary, I had the odd realization that paradoxically there was also something about the ordinary nature of the trip that was so neat.

Again, let me explain.

Upon consideration, there was much about this hiking experience which was oddly similar to nearly all other 'new' things I do in my life - meaning that it was (like most other new experiences) at the start understandably exciting, interesting, and invigorating. For example, each oddly placed and sharply jutting rock, each uniquely colored plant, every lunge over a downed tree, and of course the panoramic views – everything really just made you feel in some way stronger or more enthused than you were previously.

Like other things though, these 'new' attractions lost their luster after a day or so - those same rocks and downed trees now had become much less than ‘invigorating.’

However, I do not mean to imply that the experiential nature of the hike was somehow diminished. In fact, in retrospect I think it actually got better. This is because I began to realize where the actual memorable experiences could be found – ironically in the ordinary events.

Sure, the ‘Kodak’ moments continued to be the panoramic views and the unique rock formations, but the things I remember most without having to pull up a photo are that which took place during the steps between the breath-taking views. I can clearly recall the simplicity and joy of making breakfast in the tent and bumbling over the ‘misplaced’ rocks and cracking jokes or sharing views on life with my friend.

Yes, it’s true – it is these unremarkable moments where the memories lie.

And so, again after some consideration, my understanding of the experience on the AT is translatable to life in general… Perhaps it is the ‘other than ordinary’ events in life that provide the framework for meaning and memory to be found in the ordinary.

As always, thanks for reading. :)

1 comment:

  1. Good post Joe. As my good friend Jerry says (who you'll meet next weekend) "to find the meaning of life is to find the meaning of your everyday activity." Sometimes we're too focused on the "big" things that we forget that the "small" things make up 99% of our time here.