What If I Went to My Grave?

As somebody increasingly drawn to living an epic story, I often catch myself living in the fantastical “what if.” What if I lived in Seattle? What if I did another, longer version of my #RunningTo road trip? What if I owned a rustic VW bus? What if I backpacked around Europe or South America or New Zealand?

Can I go to my grave never having turned all these ambitious what-ifs into reality?

It’s a haunting question. I don’t want to leave anything on the table when it comes my time to go. And so I often feel panicked to rush into the next big adventure.

Life is too short.

The other day I wandered about the Smokies with a dear friend, and we stumbled across the one and only Appalachian Trail, my friend’s first time setting foot on it. I’ve hiked portions of “the AT” (as the cool kids call it) while working my old wilderness therapy job, and I’ve indeed thought this what if:

What if I hiked the entire Appalachian Trail?

I’ve read Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods, and I’m currently reading Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, and all this outdoorsiness in books and real life convinces me it’d be a crime not to step into such a story myself. Not today or tomorrow or anything. But surely before the passing of my 85th birthday I’ll have traversed this trail from Georgia to Maine — right?


On the one hand, living your life like an epic story is a good thing. It keeps you on your toes. It kicks complacency to the curb, and it inspires other people to do the same.

But on the other hand, is there such a thing as “too much” of a good story? If you set sail on an adventure every year or month or week or afternoon, does life ever get old?

Do you ever miss out on the simple things? Like late-night grocery runs? Or weekend Netflix marathons? Or hot tea?

I don’t know, I like to pontificate these things.

Who knows if I’ll ever actually hike the Appalachian Trail. I’d probably want to hike it with somebody. Preferably two somebodies so I don’t get sick of the single somebody. I’d have to save up a ton, because it’s an expensive adventure. And I’d have to reach a place in life where I can, you know, just disappear for 5-7 months at a time.

But my story has already been there, done that at least once before.

It’s bound to happen again.

This is Day 21 of #MakeNovemberTolerable. Keep checking back every day this month for new stories and discoveries of beauty where beauty may be hard to find.

  • naturgesetz

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