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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

I'm not sure how long I've had this yearning desire to go on a pilgrimage. Maybe since college? That was the first time my eyes were opened to the world of hiking. Friends would return and regale their stories of camping and hiking in the North Georgia Mountains. I had to know more. I had to experience more. After one such recollection, a friend told me about Panther Creek. You could hike to and from a waterfall for about 4 miles roundtrip. Or you could go all the way to Yonah dam for about 16 miles roundtrip. I experimented with it all. Just my doggie and me...at first. Eventually I would take friends but first I had to figure it out for myself.

I love the wilderness, forest, and mountains. I'm not much of a beach person (love SCUBA diving but not the beach, go figure). Give me a mountain, I'm a happy girl.

What's 2nd best to walking and hiking? Reading about it. At first, I thought it was strange that I liked to read about somebody else walking. Then I realized that the stories involved redemption, truth, and awakening. Revealing the good, beautiful, the bad, and the ugly. I love any kind of true story involving those attributes. Unless the story involves time or space travel, I like that too. But I digress.

Forgive me if I shared before, but it makes me happy or peaceful to think about these stories:

The Alchemist (fiction) ~Paulo Coelho
The Pilgrimage ~ Paulo Coelho
Becoming Odyssa ~Jennifer Pharr Davis
46 Days ~ Brew Davis
Walking the Trail ~Jerry Ellis (retracing the steps of the Trail of Tears)
Walking the Bible ~Bruce Feiler
Wild ~Cheryl Strayed
Into the Wild ~Jon Krakauer (although tragic, the beauty of this story is sublime and the protagonist did what he loved)
Eat, Pray, Love (a pilgrimage of sorts)~ Elizabeth Gilbert
Life of Pi (another "pilgrimage of sorts" fiction) ~Yann Martel
Walking ~Henry David Thoreau
Don Quixote~ Cervantes
A Walk in the Woods ~Bill Bryson
Siddhartha ~ Hermann Hesse

I'm sure I'm forgetting some. After thinking about these again, I think it's time for a 2nd read. I just reread The Alchemist for book club this month. It's even better the 2nd time.

Walking in solitude gives me clarity in self awareness and an awareness of the universe like nothing else.

Maybe it's innate drawing back to the roots of civilization and religious awakening. Like the 5 pillars of Islam:

Testifying to God's oneness (Shahada)
Prayer (Salat)
Charitable giving (Zakat)
Fasting (Sawm)
Pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in their life time. (Hajj)

I'm not promoting any religion here. I'm just recognizing the oneness in the Universe and drawing parallels across religions and the innateness we all feel from time to time. The things that make us the same. Mostly concentrating on my strong desire for a pilgrimage.

Anywho, I have so many options. As I mentioned yesterday, I have this yearning to hike the Appalachian Trail. There's so many other options to consider as well:

The El Camino in Spain
the Pinhoti in Alabama & Georgia
the Pacific Crest Trail
The Cherokee Trail of Tears
The Silver Comet Trail in Georgia (that's a short 61 miles, might do that on my bike instead), and much more.

There's so much to read, discover, and research. That'll be half the fun. Like the crystal merchant in The Alchemist, 'I still have to go to Mecca but I'm afraid if I go, my sense of purpose will be lost (paraphrased).' Although I can identify with the merchant's feelings, I identify MORE with the shepherd finding his personal truth and treasure.
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