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All day I thought about the strange emptiness I’m feeling. Some possible reasons:

  1. I no longer have to wonder where I’ll be sleeping tonight. (In a motel? A pasture? Behind a mound of asphalt? In someone’s backyard?)
  2. I don’t have to worry about drinking water, and certainly don’t have to carry a gallon in my kart or two liters on my back.
  3. I no longer need to consume 3,000+ calories a day, or carry protein bars and packs of tuna.
  4. I can finally stop looking at Google maps.
  5. I don’t have to photograph strange or unexpected objects I see on the side of the road.
  6. And I no longer have to walk along the edge of highways with narrow shoulders, dodge trucks and cars, or worry about blind curves looming up ahead.

Suddenly life is less intense; the environment is less intrusive.

And my body is quickly getting the message that it no longer needs to process everything I fuel it with (e.g. Snickers, fried fish sandwiches, French fries, root beer, and ice cream.) It can just store it as fat.

This morning, after a late breakfast of oatmeal, fruit, and an outrageously good jelly donut, I walked for an hour on the boardwalk with Roger. It was an easy stroll, especially after getting to the point where I can walk 15-25 miles with only minimal breaks. This became my style of walking and contrasts with other hikers who take strategic breaks every two hours or so. It won’t be long before I lose this ability (and the blisters that result!).

The lesson to be learned is that the human body is capable of incredible feats given the opportunity.

So many people I meet tell me, “I could never do what you’re doing!”  But they’re wrong. Many could. Not all, of course. But reaching for the inner strength to achieve a challenging goal is an innate human quality.

That’s what I’ve come to believe.

@ Chadwick Beach, New Jersey

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