You’ve been planning the trip for weeks. A thru-hike of the John Muir Trail with a couple friends. It’s a big trip, a massive commitment, and one that’s sure to pose unanticipated challenges along the way. You know, an adventure. Permits have been secured, loose strategies made for resupply stops, vehicle shuttling planned, gear packing discussed, and fantasies of vistas and trail moments you’ll never forget already running through your mind on a loop.
Ah, but then, life intervenes. A job loss. A love lost or gained. Personal hardship or injury raises its head. Suddenly, the fantasies of the Milky Way swirling over your tent each night at 10,000 feet, while you whoop it up with your buddies are replaced by a nagging feeling of guilt about taking so long off from the humdrum of regular, workaday life. Or something entirely out of your hands makes the trip impossible.
Sure, other adventures down the road await, that’s a vessel that’s always running over with possibilities. But that original possibility, of memories built one step at a time on one of the world’s grandest trails, with those friends at that time in your life—that specific door is closed. What happened beyond it, in an alternate universe where you took that trip? You’ll never know.
What comes next? Regret? Or understanding?
That exact scenario may have happened in your life, or perhaps you’d never let anything stand in the way of a grand adventure.
What about you, reader?
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Photo: Jasper van der Meij