Juice

    In all aspects of our life we take a chance. We risk something to gain another. Risk and reward go hand in hand. I’ve always believed that in order to win big you had to be at least willing to risk it all if not most. There is a movie quote that sums it up beautifully. “You have to ask yourself one question. Is the juice worth the squeeze?”  It really can not get more simple than that.  Some risks are bigger than others. Ironically risk isn’t measured rationally. Fear or what we are afraid to lose is a major factor in how we, or at least I determine risk. What am I afraid to lose? What am I risking by undertaking this adventure? What will happen if I fail?
    This trip is a huge risk physically, emotionally and financially. I have no idea of what I will come back to. I’m risking bodily injury or death, although very small chance on the latter. I’m afraid mostly of not finishing, more so breaking a leg again. Not finishing won’t deter me but I am going to have to control my feelings about the other.  There is a very good chance I could be injured and deterred to finish or injured enough that I will be forced off the trail. And this is just me, what of Roland physically?
    The financial risk is also rather big for others but not so much for me.  I am leaving it all behind, steady job, home, etc. I am not afraid though. I’ve been homeless, jobless, penniless before. Hell I’ve also been the opposite too. If I come back to nothing, it’s not as if it’s the first time. I would just rather not start all over again, starting at the bottom sucks.
    It’s very easy to quantify physical and financial risks. How do you give worth to an emotional one. What could I be losing emotionally? There are two parts to this for me. The first is my dog, Roland. He is a huge emotional anchor for me and this is a big risk for him too.  I am confident that he still has the stones and the fortitude to finish this journey, but I can’t help wonder if this will be his last.  Will he want to quit? Will I be able to read his needs and stop him if he pushes too hard? How will I cope with the loss of Roland due to injury, fatigue, heat, etc?  I know he will be safe with my army brother Tom but I can’t shake the fears and thoughts.
     What do I stand to gain from this venture though? Without risk there can be no reward.  Accomplishing the journey in its own right is a huge reward.  Each state I cross, mile I trek with Roland is a small reward. Being out in the wilderness experiencing all of the beauty and wonder of the country with my best friend is worth more than any broken leg.  Roland has been through thick and thin with me and being able to share in this adventure together is the reward.  A man can’t ask for a more faithful dog.
     The gains financially are all unknowns and exciting, a new career, a new-found purpose in life perhaps.  The possibilities are endless and since I am not wagering much whatever happens will be a sweet reward in its own right. Emotionally, I stand to gain an appreciation for the human spirit.  Walking 2181 miles in one attempt is no small feat. Let alone the other 6000 some odd miles from the other trails.  In finishing this journey it will only encourage me that I can accomplish the others as well as anything else that passes into my journey on the trail and after.
    In life just as with love you have to hold nothing back, risk it all. I’ve always thought this was akin to cliff diving.  You jump off that cliff, time slows down as your adrenaline pumps away  Falling feet after feet, you feel this false sense of calm and excitement as you float down to the water, the reality is you are plummeting to the surface.  When you crash through the surface of the water everything has slowed down so much for you, what you see is the droplets of spray and water rise up and form small waves that swallow you, bringing you under. In an instant, time is back to normal and disorientation takes over.  Which way is up? which way is down?  Picking a direction, you swim to the light hoping it’s the right way.  As your hands break free from the waters grasp and your head breaches the surface, taking in that first breath, you feel a touch of euphoria as excitement and relief fill you. That breath is the sweetest, coolest, most crisp breath you’ll ever take.  Every feeling is in overdrive, the air is so clean, the colors are so vibrant, the world alive.  Without risk there is no reward, is the juice worth the squeeze?

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