In contemplating a 2,660 mile journey one must ask one’s self, “Do I have what it takes?”
Frankly my answer started out with, “Probably not.”
But then as I thought on my general lack of persistence in any endeavor and the total lack of a need to prove myself to anybody, including myself, and my anathema to goal setting, I thought back further. I thought back to my childhood when excellence in physical endeavors was a passion. I worked tirelessly at improving my skills in baseball, basketball and football. I pushed and pushed to make it all the way up that hill that no one had succeeded in biking up before. Balancing acts, climbing feats, getting closest to the edge of cliffs that dropped off into nowhere, even though it scared me to death, anything that I feared became a challenge that I felt compelled to take on and win. I was that kid. So what changed?
It was barely tolerated in the 50’s for a girl to pursue the kind of life that made me tick with joy. People did tolerate it though, UNTIL… And I was able to better the boys in most sports and feats of daring and strength, UNTIL…
I will never forget the day the neighbor boy beat me in a wrestling match. That had never happened. I’d always won. Then one day I didn’t. And I really tried! Something had changed. Wouldn’t you know it, I was an early bloomer. I was 12 and had grown tits. He had gained muscle mass. It was over.
Had it been post-title nine I may have carried on in a different venue. I could have taken my skills from the sandlot and the streets into some recognized sporting endeavors for women. Alas, it was pre-title nine. Even when other girls did get to play a game of some sort in PE or at scout camp, I found the competition totally lame. I kept up with Girl Scouts which saved me in a way with wilderness camping and backpacking, but…
I was talking with my younger son on the phone recently and trying to express to him how good I was feeling in my body. I said, “I haven’t felt this good in my body since, well…” and I cast back and back and back in my mind until I reached that day I lost the wrestling match to the boy next door, “since puberty!” That was a shock! I may be 69 years old and I may need to work quite hard at getting in anywhere near the kind of condition I need to be in to even start the PCT, but I feel more empowered right now than I have felt since that day.
True grit? You betcha! I’ve got it. I may have misplaced it for half a century but I’ve got it and I’m dragging it back into my life.