Rewind. A lot.
Like, all the way back to 1993.
That was the summer a Boy Scout Master was assigned to our troop who loved hiking. He would make the next few years of my life complete hell. Er. The summers, at least.
I was a fat kid. The only fat kid in my troop. And that meant when I hiked with everyone, I actually hiked alone. In a nutshell, this is what every hike was like…
The troop takes off up the trail, gung ho, ready to conquer the mountain! I’m with them! Maybe I’m even leading the pack! Go me!
Thirty or so paces into the hike, I fall behind the last person. Everyone has a faster pace and a bigger stride it seems.
By the time I near the first switchback, I am winded. Notice I said when “I” reach the first switchback, not we. Everyone else is already half a switchback ahead. I cannot rest. I shall not rest. I will catch up!
I hike alone for a while. My legs burn. My lungs burn. My side aches. I must catch up. They will know how fat I am if I don’t!
With every step I take, they take two. I don’t know where they are a few switchbacks in. Still, I hoof it. Why I hoof it behind the pack and alone is beyond me. No Boy Scout should ever be left behind. No one should ever be left behind.
Eventually, I see them in the distance. They are all sittings on logs and on boulders.
Finally! I think to myself. I can rest. I can catch my breath and keep up when we get going again. I pray as I walk that they won’t notice me and how fat I am. I pray that they’ll stay and rest a little longer.
Except… when I get there, they all stand up, start strapping on their bags, and someone with a deep voice yells, “okay! Let’s move it!”
They were waiting for me. Resting. Waiting for me and resting. And they give me no chance to rest.
This was the fat-kid-hike cycle all the way to the destination. Every. Single. Time. Go me!
And on every hike, do you know what I thought about during the entire hike? I thought about how much I was holding all of them back. I thought about how much I was letting the troop down. I thought about how my presence there was ruining the fun for all of them.
Of all my endless life issues, 80% of them came from hiking.
And damn it, never again.
I’m going to lead every hike from here on out as an adult. I’m going to be the one staring into the bottomless sorrow of others eyes as I yell, “let’s get moving!” I’m going to be the one that seemingly hovers along the path while others are ground into it. Or something like that.
Nah. I could never be that kind of jerk. But I am never again going to be that fat kid, huffing it up in the rear, making everyone miss out on their fun.
Oh wait. Looks like maybe that’s not quite true.