My trail name is Honey Badger. The thru-hikers would always ask “what’s your name?,” and “George” did not register with them. But when I answered “Honey Badger,” they’d almost always smile and respond “Honey Badger doesn’t give a shit!”
The day I left the trailhead, I’d caught an almost forgotten feeling: fear. Not an everyday fear, but this specific deep fear I’d felt once trapped in an underwater cave in Italy when I was sure I’d never see my newborn son again because of a tiny, stupid mistake. Or when I had to swim a quarter-mile through open ocean to recover a drifting boat if I wanted to live, through water I knew very well was full of very large sharks. But then I asked myself what exactly I was afraid of, and I realized that I was only worried about missing my connection back to my car at the end of the trail. Anything else unfortunate that could possibly happen (I ran down a short mental list) didn’t really matter to me, and that took a load off. I was embarrassed that Honey Badger’s priorities had gotten confused.
Day 2: Asteya and Satya: Asteya means appreciating all that you genuinely have. And hopefully, when you truly appreciate your wealth–whether it is a richness of time, or space, or incredible friends, or a whole bunch of really cool stuff–you’ll want to share all that with others and help them.
Once you start walking like this though, you don’t feel rich. You feel tired, and you feel like your pack could be ten pounds lighter. But you have to walk, because just yesterday you had affirmed that you would see this thing through. Luckily, I kept meeting thru-hikers. Early on Day 2 I saw one striding down the trail behind me, and reflected that this big walk certainly gave women incredible legs, something I had noticed yesterday: muscled, tanned like dark caramel, entirely smooth and perfectly proportioned. When this hiker came up to me I had the pleasure of meeting Tomahawk, and gentleman from Osaka, Japan. Score one for gender and ethnic bias awareness training.
I kept trying to be grateful for all I had at that moment, but I kept coming back to thinking “I’ve got at least ten pounds of stuff in this pack that I don’t need.” I was trying to keep in mind yesterday’s swadhyaya and tapas, but that too heavy pack, and the trail that just got irritating going downhill because I knew that meant I would just have to go back up, and eventually all I could think about was making each step I took a perfect step. I imagined the most efficient, relaxed, powerful, beautiful step I could possibly take. I forgot the step I had just taken, didn’t worry about the one coming next. I just thought about taking one beautiful step.
Satya is a commitment to the truth in the present moment, as it reveals itself. It is a decision to see and communicate things as the actually are, not as we wish them to be. And in the middle of one of these perfect steps I realized again that my choice of these two yamas was not random. I was immensely pleased with each individual step I took. Everything else was just not there. And I looked out before my little tent at the end of that day to recall a key concept of asteya, to take a moment each day to dwell on at least one gift in your life. And all I could think was “isn’t this incredibly beautiful?”
Tomorrow: non-violence and compassion, letting go, and the most incredible sunrise I’ve ever seen.
You take me there and I want to follow. Beautiful. I can’t imagine what you would do if you went UL (ultralight) like the thru-hikers. Happy Trails
You are the most amazing person. You are one of the things in my life I am the most grateful for every day.
Fear is a special emotion.