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Isn't it pretty?

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Pizza, Beer and a Shower

It's amazing how we take things for granted... I have a friend who quit her job and postponed her wedding in order to have the experience of a lifetime. She has been hiking the Appalachian Trail for the past three months, with the intention of continuing for another three or four. She started out in Northern Georgia and will hike her way to Maine - that's over 2,000 miles she will travel while carrying everything she needs on her back. She reached Virginia this past week and took a break from the trail for the holiday weekend. I was lucky to be able to meet up with her on Monday in Annapolis where friends of hers were having a barbecue for the 4th. She told me tales, showed me pictures and gave me a HUGE hug, which was the best part. Her perspective on life has totally changed due to this experience. In many ways, it is similar to my trip to Israel - it is giving her a new way of looking at the world, and it is enhancing her life in so many ways. She no longer takes things like indoor plumbing for granted. A clean latrine is the most she can hope for on a good day on the trail. Her best nights are spent in hostels where there is anything resembling a mattress for her to sleep on. She traded in a 6-pound backpack for a 2-pound one and swears that the 4 pounds makes an incredible difference when you are carrying all your possessions on your back. It was interesting watching her cringe at store-bought blueberries. They tasted like pesticide to her, not like the fresh, wild-grown ones she sees in the mountains. She showed me beautiful, gorgeous photos of the trails she has been hiking; some of the most incredible scenery you could hope to have a picture of, and to her, that is the typical, everyday sight that accompanies her on her way. What I thought was so striking was her appreciation of the little things. As she was going through pictures, she came to a photo of a little shelter she stayed at one night. She reminisced about that evening. She told me how it had the cleanest latrine on the trail, and even a shower. She told us how they met a guy there who brought beer and a pizza. She said it was heaven. When you've been hiking that long, what more can you ask for? Pizza, beer and a shower. Doesn't take much to make a person happy when they are used to not having such luxuries. I think we should all realize how much we have and what we take for granted, because it is the small things in life that make such a difference. I don't think I will ever look at my shower in the same way again. (Okay, maybe I will, but I am going to try not to.)

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