So, I may walk a bit too fast. I just came back from the 2011 American Heart Association’s Heartwalk, and realized I probably violated one of the lessons I’ve learned about life from hiking. Namely, that sometimes it pays not to be first. That was driven home when, nearing the end of the 3-mile walk, I passed several people whom had taken the 1-mile course.
Well that, and the fact that I passed approximately 11,500 people. (No exaggeration.)
Anyway, it got me to thinking about the other lessons I’ve learned from hiking. Here are my favorites, in no particular order. Feel free to add your own.
1. When approaching a hill, do not slow down; instead, walk faster. Hills are signals that it is time to work harder.
2.The view from the top of the hill is often extraordinary, but so is the view on the way up, if you take the time to notice.
3. The people you meet when they are on the way downhill tend to be a lot nicer than the folks you meet when you’re all on the way up.
4. When you reach the summit, please refrain from spitting on those below you. At least a few will be at the top when you’re on your way back down.
5. It isn’t lonely at the top. All you have to do is invite a few people up to join you.
6. If you happen to die at the bottom of the hill, or along the way, do take the time to be grateful for the journey.
7. It will not always be sunny on your journey. Be sure to check the forecast, and plan accordingly.
8. Unhealthy food is fun, but when you’re nearing the end of your trip, you will wish you’d eaten a lot healthier. No one lies in the grass – exhausted – at the end, wishing for another donut.
9. It’s a heck of a lot more fun if you take someone along you really like.
10. There is always someone there. If you’re quiet enough, you’ll be able to hear him or her.
11. The wind has secret songs. You are born knowing the words, but you’ll have to lose your inhibitions to be able to sing them.
12. Those who hike well tend to be sunny, even when the weather is not.
13. The best time to start on a new path is when you are there. The best time to search for the next path is just as you are mastering the one you are on.
14. The hills don’t get higher as you get older; however, sometimes you can forget to enjoy them as much.
15. It’s okay, sometimes, to stop right in the middle of a rigorous hike, and declare a picnic.
16. It’s even better to declare a picnic if you invite the next cute person who passes by to join you.
17. Fellow hikers enjoy it when you strike up a conversation, assuming you have something to talk about more interesting than yourself.
18. If you meet another hiker, and don’t know what to say, consider starting with a smile. People tend to understand those, in every language.
19. If you happen to see me, and we’re hiking, you may want to move to the right. I’ll probably be in the fast lane.
20. I’ll slow down, if you smile as I’m passing by.
21. God is watching (or something is), whether you believe it or not.
22. The view from the very top, no matter how high the peak, is still below the least significant star. Plus, any bird worth its salt can poop on your head. Consider that when you feel like bragging about how important your life is.
23. At some point, hopefully before the end, you’ll start to miss those hills. Don’t forget to enjoy the trip up too.
24. Remember to stop, and take pictures.
25. On the last day of the hike, you will rapidly lose faith in science. Please consider having faith in something else as an alternative.
May God, or something, keep you strong.
(Ed. If you ever read my books, The Stream, you will notice a thread of my Life’s Philosophy of Hiking in them. Robin, in particular, is a proponent. If you like the post, please consider the book.)