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[at-l] Taking/making time for a thruhike

A.J. Schulte wrote:
>    Any advice?

Everyone's circumstances are different.  Some are lucky enough to be in
obvious places of transition - just finishing school, the military,
retirement, etc.  For the rest of us, it is a matter of deciding on our
priorities.  Whatever you choose, there will be a price to pay.  If
doing a thruhike is the most important thing for you right now, you will
find a way to do it.  Doing so may mean losing your security blankets -
job, bank account, home, or even your family.  It may mean starting over
again after the thruhike.  It may mean facing changes in yourself that
change everything you think you want out of life. 

If being with your young children is a high priority, then you'll wait
until they are old enough to leave for six months. (That one depends on
you and your wife. For some, "old enough" is out of nursery school, for
others it means out of college.)  If building a business or a career is
most important, then you'll wait until you have done what you need to do
there, and then go hiking.  What is most important to you?

But you must understand that by waiting, you may never get your chance
to do a thruhike.  A lot of middle aged thruhikers are people who are
bored or who have burned out on their jobs and don't mind the idea of
starting over again after the thruhike. A few, but very few, will have
jobs waiting for them when they return. Many look at their chances of
still being mentally and physically able to do a  thruhike at the age of
retirement, and decide that if they wait, they'll probably never do it.
They tend to be people who don't place a high priority on being secure.

Someone said a while back that if you don't want this thruhike with all
your heart, then you won't finish.  But if you want to do a thruhike,
more than anything else in your life, then you'll work however long it
takes to get enough money together so that you can hike, and your family
is not left wanting.  You will try to help your family understand why
this is important to you, because without their support, it will be much
harder, and there may be nothing to go back to.  

In my case - twice I have quit my job, put all my things in storage, and
taken off to do a long distance hike.  Each return meant a total change
in my life.  New jobs, major moves, new lifestyle.  In 1999, we will do
it again.  It isn't easy, especially as I seem to accumulate more and
more baggage as I go.  But for me, it is worth it.  Even knowing that
the future after our hike is totally unknown and unknowable (scary!)  It
is what we both want.  For me, Life is too uncertain to wait.  But then,
I don't believe in security, and I don't have a career that gives my
life meaning. That makes it easier. 

As I said, each person's circumstances are different.

Spirit Walker 
AT 88 & 92
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