Out of all the lessons I learned during my recent two-day white-water kayaking adventure on the Cheakamus River in Squamish, BC; the power of commitment proved the most effective.
Paddling on white-water is like living life in fast motion. You don’t have the luxury of time for decisions or chances to renege. You are powered by reactions, to the water and the obstacles around you. You must choose your direction and commit to it; then paddle to get there despite what happens in-between. Anything less and you’ll end up hitting the rocks, floundering in the waves or getting trapped beneath the trees.
To successfully steer into a narrow eddy or surf a challenging wave, you need commitment. If you give it a half-hearted effort you’re bound to miss or be swept away with the current. But if you’re committed to the direction you want to go and keep your eye on the prize, even if you overshoot or stray by a fraction, strength and determination will get you there.
This idea of commitment can obviously be applied to all things in life, but I never realised just how necessary it was until I witnessed its immediate consequence on the water first hand during the field course.
Music: The Temper Trap, Sweet Disposition
I believe what got me across the border to Canada on the PCT was a commitment from the very beginning to finish the trail; no matter what the circumstances or conditions, providing my body could propel me there.
Strength of mind is more powerful than muscle, and a long distance hike like the PCT is certainly not just about physical endurance. I think any thru-hiker would agree that at least half the challenge is mental. Mood alone can determine your energy levels that day. It’s a lot easier to hike 30 miles jacked up on serotonin than it is when you’re feeling down.
I’d like to say I’m a person who follows through on commitments, but I also think very carefully about what I commit to first. When I tell someone I’m going to do something, it means I’m 100% committed to doing so, unless powers out of my control prevent me.
Someone at the store today asked me what’s next after the PCT. I have asked myself this question numerous times, and there are countless options I wish to explore. I have some ideas in mind, but I won’t be sharing them until I’m 100% committed! 😉
In the short term I’m continuing to explore the trails and waterways of BC, having recently hiked up to Black Tusk and Panorama Ridge near Lake Garibaldi. Next month I’m hiking the West Coast Trail, my first real multiday hike since the Camino. The trail is only a meagre 75kms (47 miles), but it’s said to be demanding, and I believe my biggest challenge will be learning to compromise. I have become incredibly used to solo travel, my own habits, routines and making my own decisions. I’m doing this hike together with my friend Steve, who has been my hiking and camping companion throughout the summer. We share a passion for the outdoors, equal fitness levels, similar hiking pace, and both love to analyse life, people’s behaviours and the complexity of the world; ensuring we’re never short of conversation. But it will be interesting to see how two incredibly independent, self sufficient and opinionated people (when it comes to wilderness travel at least), team up over a period of four or five days.
Thankfully we are both lovers of logistics and documentation, so I’m looking forward to sharing my gear list, food menu, and tips for hiking the trail once the adventure is over. It’s one of the most expensive trails to hike in Canada (or anywhere I’ve ever known) – with permits alone costing over $100, not to mention the cost of ferries, the bus back to the start point, and getting over to Vancouver Island. But I guess it’s something you only ever do once.
I should also mention that I’m no longer required to move house, which I somewhat attribute to the power of manifesting reality. Up until the end of July, I truly believed that I wouldn’t need to move out of the room I was subletting. There was no evidence, suggestion or reason why this would be the case; and although I still wanted to believe it, I eventually gave up and secured another room. But just recently the roommate decided he was not going to return, which means that less than two weeks before the move, I’m now in exactly the position I had hoped to be in. In some respects I’m not that surprised, as I’d almost expected it to pan out this way. I did feel guilty cancelling on the room I’d secured, but thankfully because the rental market in Vancouver is so saturated, it took the woman less than a day to find someone else, so she kindly offered me back my deposit.
In addition to my lessons on commitment this week, I have also recently been reminded that positivity breeds positivity, and that positive thinking can create endless possibilities.