There are two ways that the words “why not” can be interpreted.
The first is when you and about five of your drunken buddies are sunbathing at the local quarry, and the drunkest of the entire group suggests that you all jump off the seventy-foot ledge into the water below. Someone inevitably will slur “why not?” and you all take the plunge. The question is more rhetorical than literal. No one is really looking for an answer. The question seems so logical that it is a foregone conclusion what will be done next, and you really don’t want to hear opposition.
The second situation calls for a logical, albeit boring recitation of the reasons why something should not be done, as in when I told my mother, back in 1978, I was going to marry a divorcee with two children. She expressed displeasure at the idea, I shrugged and said “why not?” at which point she spent the next half-hour telling me all of the reasons why not.
Careful, methodical, oftentimes “burned” people tend to gravitate towards Door #2.
I have always embraced Door #1, and I have no idea where that inclination comes from. Certainly not my adopted parents, both of whom were slow, methodical, careful, rational role models. Perhaps from my biological family, none of whom I knew, but stories have it that most of their actions, some of which led to early, untimely, violent deaths, were all spontaneous, without an inkling of logic or thought attached to them.
Whatever the case may be, I love the first option, and it leads me to a story about Bev and I, sitting in the living room after dinner, about two months ago, discussing our days.
Scurrying down the YouTube rabbit hole
I suspect I am becoming a YouTube junkie. That’s what it feels like of late. I would much rather spend an hour or two watching various short programs on topics you just won’t see on network television. Be that as it may, one night, after dinner, Bev and I came upon a video about thru hiking, and in that video, it was mentioned that the creator of the video had just completed the Pacific Crest Trail. We immediately found a video about that trail, watched it, watched another, expressed our wonder to each other, at which time Bev looked at me and said “I wish I could do something like that.”
To which I replied “why not?”
“Seriously,” she continued, “I have always wanted to go on a grand adventure like that, to test myself, to find out my limits. I’ve always been with someone else, a husband, my children, you know, but never by myself, finding out how well I could do by myself. It’s been one of my biggest dreams, for decades.”
To which I replied “And I repeat my earlier question, which is why not? You retire in December. That gives us more than enough time to get prepared, to learn everything about it, to get our financial matters taken care of. I could travel along in the RV, with the dogs, resupply you along the trail, and follow you all the way from Mexico to Canada. It would be four, or five months, or unbridled adventure.”
And that, my friends, is how two rational people fell down the rabbit hole of thru hiking and committed to one of us hiking 2,650 miles in 2023.
Here’s the thing
There will always be reasons why we can’t do something. Give me five minutes and I can give you twenty reasons why two rational, intelligent people shouldn’t shuck it all and go off on a quest like this. Hell, I was raised by two people who would have questioned my sanity for this stunt. And I have friends, today, who look at me like they think I might have slipped over to the dark side, and perhaps lost a few of my mental marbles. Most people don’t toss aside financial stability, everything worked for over the span of decades, to risk life and limb on a 2,650-mile trail. Most people carve out a slice of the American Dream, hunker down in their hard-earned home, eat meals while watching Pat and Vanna on the Wheel of Fortune, and call it a life.
And, there is nothing wrong with that, if that satisfies them and they are happy.
But there is nothing wrong with our approach to life as well.
About a month after our thru-hiking revelation/discussion/commitment, Bev asked me if I had any desire to do something huge, something monumental, and I told her I have always wanted to walk or bike across the United States, get to know my fellow Americans, see sites not seen from the Interstate. And you know what Bev said to me in response?