Excerpt from a Short Story

The following is an excerpt from a short story I wrote after my three months on the Appalachian Trail. The full story was written for a friend as a gift, and as such, will not be published here in its entirety. I have lifted a few sections that get close to the heart of that hike. Moreso, these sections encompass the spirit of Numbered Days.


There are a few lines from my favorite song which go like this: “Take your time/And watch the setting sun/Take your hands out of your pockets/Feel the water run/Don’t worry about tomorrow and yesterday/Is gone.”

I ponder how those lines speak of living deeply and wide open, even through the ordinary, the mundane, through things that might be mistakenly labeled, “regular old living.” And I wonder if this song encompasses the heart of what it means to hike for months through the woods, of having life pared down to such minimalism that we are all but forced to rejoice in little things: the setting sun, a running stream, a moment that exists now and never again.

In the White Mountains of New Hampshire, especially, I am full of something I can’t name but now I think that something is “Life,” sheer joy at being alive to experience it, falling deeply in love with existence. My chest is full of helium and light in the days that follow; I am constantly on the edge of weeping or spontaneously skipping like a little girl as we ascend peaks and drop into notches and take zero days in quaint, quiet towns and all the while, the miles keep ticking by.

Inside those breaths, we are happy and we are alive.

I once sat in a river with my friend while all around it poured down rain. I couldn’t stop laughing. These times—when we are drunk off life and love—are what I would argue as one of the deepest cores of human experience. They are precious and real, even when it’s hard to remember, even when we buy into the lie that our lives, that life in general, has no meaning. They mean something: that inside those breaths, we are happy and we are alive.

As my journey nears its end, I find myself desperately not wanting it to be over.

It strikes me how common this is, to want something when it nears an end. Only when something is made finite do we cling with both hands. We wish for time to slow or stop, acutely aware of its relentless forward motion. But why should time with someone be less meaningful when you have seemingly unlimited amounts of it? In these moments of grasping, of clinging, we are truly present, truly with someone, grateful beyond words simply to be with them. It must be possible to cultivate this presence, this exquisite Being in a moment, Being with another, even when an end is not in sight.

In these moments of grasping, of clinging, we are truly present, truly with someone, grateful beyond words simply to be with them.

The writer, Henry David Thoreau, speaks of living deliberately, of living deep, of sucking the marrow out of life. And in the end, that is what we did out here, crossing state lines and hiking hundreds of miles through marsh and mountain. How lucky I am to be here, I thought then. How lucky I am to have done this, I think now. In a visceral way, I have experienced what it is to not worry about tomorrow—that yesterday is gone and the future will come and all we have is today.

How magnificent it truly was. How amazing it is, to just Be.


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I unpack existential topics and ask the questions people are too afraid to ask: What does it mean to Live? Why am I unsatisfied with my life? What is happiness, really? What the fuck is the point?

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