Clint Bunting is not an ordinary hiker, so Oregon Public Broadcasting recently told his unique story. Over the past several years Clint has hiked several U.S. trails; the Pacific Crest Trail, Appalachian, Ice Age and Colorado Trails, the Continental Divide. The shortest trail is 500 miles: some he traversed multiple times for a total of 30,000 miles. If that isn’t enough to make you gasp, he has walked the majority of these miles carrying a pack weighing only eight pounds.
Eight pounds. I am pretty sure after slogging through mud trails my own hiking boots weigh that much.
Cutting out what he determined to be unnecessary: a regular tent, a water purifying system and sleeping bag: he also cut off what is unneeded: straps and tags from his pack, the handle of his toothbrush. As he considers what will go into his pack, he asks, “Will this enhance the trail experience?” Then he continues, “We pack our fear. Whatever you are scared of, you pack for.” Clint explains if you are fearful of getting bitten, you will pack too much bug spray, or if you are afraid of not having clean clothes, you pack excess.
Whether we are on the trail, or in every day life, we pack our fear. Let’s “unpack” this a bit, because it has a lot to do with our levels of stress and ability to be resilient. We have all had soul-bruising life experiences. Playground taunts, hurtful comments from family, we have learned that in some way, we are not enough. Our subconscious creates actions and beliefs to seek to prove to ourselves and others we are enough. Some actions emerging from those deep beliefs can look very good to everyone around us; working long hours or seeking to be top in our chosen field, yet if unmonitored can causes us a great deal of pain as adults. Let’s briefly look at Sally’s story as example.
Sally grew up with high standards placed on her early in life. She soon learned to expect those same standards from herself and as an adult worked long hours, unaware why she was doing so. She felt good about her long hours, (after all our culture says this is a good thing) yet it was draining. Years went by, it became increasingly difficult to hold together her work, moments with her family and her own health. She judged herself as “not enough” and became tired, worn out and irritable.
In Sally’s “backpack” she packed several items she feared: perhaps one of the heaviest was working long hours to subconsciously prove her worth to herself and others. As Sally experiences herself as “not enough,” the idea of cutting back her hours in order to spend time her with family and take care of her own self may feel, “unacceptable,” “not possible” and frankly, terrifying. This is an example of “packing our fear.” Imagine how this impacts our stress level. Sally, believing she has to prove her value by working long hours, runs out of emotional and physical energy, and soon, can no longer do it. It is the ultimate double cross. She works long hours to prove to herself she is enough, and then runs out of energy, can no longer keep up with the long hours thus “proving” to her self, she is “not enough.” We end up creating exactly what we do not want to experience. Our pack becomes heavy and the additional weight slows us down and causes us pain.
Are you packing your fear? Most of us are. You may not have perfectionism or workaholism in your pack, however what you do have may be taking up a great deal of space and weighing you down. What is the extra weight you carry that slows you down and causes you pain?
This week, consider Clint’s trail questions: Will this (action or belief that I hold) enhance the trail experience?” Or is it something I can afford to take out of my pack, and lighten the load?
These are the sorts of questions that we explore in the “Come Home to Yourself” retreat scheduled for November 3-5 at Wellspring Farms in Annandale. There are a limited number of spots. Early bird discounted rate of $175 ends August 30th. You can find more information be watching more details emerge at https://andreatatley.wordpress.com/resiliency-revitalizers/
The early bird registration for the 8 month class, Sacred Connections is also Aug. 30th. Class begins Oct. 3. Apply here: http://www.christoscenter.org/sfp/sacred-connections/
Create the week you want to experience,