A year ago we bought a cottage in close proximity to Ontario’s Bruce Trail. I like hiking and being outdoors so I took advantage of our nearness to the trail to regularly head out for a bit of a walk in the woods. After a while I decided that perhaps I would try to hike the entire Peninsula section which is one of nine sections of the trail – about 160km. I liked the idea that this goal would take me to new places of the trail and experience new destinations. I would see things I wouldn’t see if I just stayed on the part of the trail close to my cottage. And then, because I tend to be like this, I figured if I was doing the Peninsula section of the trail I might as well do the whole trail. All 894 kilometres. So I set a goal of completing what is called an End-to-End by my fiftieth birthday next year. Go big or go home.
You would think that as an extreme caregiver, with very limited time, setting ambitious goals might constantly set me up for failure and disappointment. And sure there are times I have been disappointed because I couldn’t complete a goal I had set. But generally speaking, because I was audacious (or stupid) enough to set goals in spite of my crazy life, sometimes without really thinking, I have enjoyed so many adventures that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. Had I stopped to consider how realistic a goal might be in light of my caregiving responsibilities I probably would have attempted very little. And yes, some goals have been re-negotiated along the way. My PhD attempt has been put on hold twice. But heck, I have learned a lot along the way and none of that would have happened had I not just impulsively jumped into the proverbial academic pool and started swimming.
This weekend is a long weekend in Canada. Matthew will be spending some time in respite and I will be spending the weekend hiking approximately 80km of the southern end of Bruce Trail. Next weekend I will follow-up with another 70km of teeth gnashing hills a bit further north. Don’t worry, I have the hot tub fired up in anticipation of the very sore legs I am sure to have at the end of all this.
Deciding to hike 894 kms might have been kind of silly when you consider my crazy life. And I may not be able to complete the goal of an End-to-End by my fiftieth. But I plan to have fun trying and I will no doubt get a whole lot further than had I never bothered to challenge myself with a lofty goal.