I have a confession to make – I have been struggling with keeping all of this at the top of the priority list lately. Pushing the big pause button on life and walking off into the woods seems like it would be such an easy proposition, but the reality, at least for me, is that there is a shit-ton of stuff to be done long before I can just walk away. And keeping all of that on the “To Do” list, along with life’s everyday tasks, is often a daunting task. As much as I may like to, I cannot simply put life on hold right now to be able to plan out putting life on hold next year.
I will be the first to admit that I am a collector of hobbies. I love to learn, and dive head-first into whatever new skill I am learning, both mentally and financially. However, I also have a bad habit of jumping from hobby to hobby, never truly honing one skillset to perfection before rushing into the next one. I nearly always circle back around to each one, eventually, but typically not frequently enough to be worthwhile. An old friend used to laugh at the cyclical nature of my hobby jumping, even predicting when I would revisit certain hobbies within the annual seasons. This has always been a struggle for me, one for which I am hoping the trail will help me resolve.
Water, Water, Everywhere…
My latest struggle stems from needing some other form of exercise to get into shape, but without overworking my knee in the process. I am currently taking long walks through town or hikes up the mountain as often as I can, but I am not to a point where I can do this on a daily basis. My knee strength is returning, but it is not 100% yet. I stress YET. Even if strength were top-notch, walking town gets boring (and dangerous… Maryland drivers are some of the worst…) In a search for something to cross train with, I come across an old summer camp favorite – kayaking. At first, I was only interested in flat water, recreational kayaking, but the more I have looked into it, getting into whitewater kayaking sounds just as fun, and even more exciting. But I know nothing about whitewater, and to be safe about it, would need at least one or two classes. I want to hike next year, not drown this year. The physical and mental benefits of kayaking – either on flat water or white water – are immense. Great cardio. Upper body strength. Flexibility. Balance. The cooling effects of water in this blazing heat. And hardly any knee function required, which would make it a great exercise in between more leg-intensive days.
The flip side of all of this is that it is money I do not need to be spending right now. I am going to have zero income very quickly, and while I have already started to watch my spending, I know I need to get a tighter grip on it. Like a strangle-hold grip. So unless Dagger Kayaks wants to donate a boat to my rehabbing, I will continue to do my best to avoid this hobby… for now. Post-trail, watch out!
I am NOT an Ambulance Driver!
If you did not know, I am a volunteer medic. Technically, I am a National Registry Paramedic, and a Maryland-certified Cardiac Rescue Technician. Semantics. I am a medic. Essentially, emergency medicine is just another hobby that I allowed to get out of control. It is one of the reasons I am divorced. It also was partly responsible for saving me from the depression and boredom that followed said divorce, so I suppose it is ailment and cure, all at once. I really enjoy riding the ambulance, providing care to those in need, and being there to help people through their worst day. I am not the type of volunteer that wants all the bells, whistles, flashers and sirens on my vehicle. I do not load up my uniform belt like Batman. I do not do it to get my name in the paper. There is nothing wrong with those that do, but none of that is my driving motivation. For me, it is about being helpful, being useful, having purpose.
Unfortunately, being a medic takes time. Lots and lots of time. Recertification every other year. CPR certification refresher every year. Protocol updates every year. Specialty certifications like Advance Cardiac Life Support and Pediatric Advanced Life Support, which tend to be scheduled with career medics in mind, not volunteers. Regional training and refresher courses. And that is just the training. Keep in mind, I am a volunteer, which means I also work a 40-hour-per-week job so that I can pay my bills.
Then there are the actual station shifts – usually 12 hours at a time, sometimes 24. I sign up for a 12 hour overnight shift every Thursday night. Sometimes I help cover a weekend shift. My region runs Advanced Life Support as a chase car system – a glorified Ford Expedition that follows the ambulance to the scene, and then the medic either rides to the hospital on the ambulance, if needed, or returns to the station if the patient is a Basic Life Support patient. Therefore, ALS and BLS shifts are done separately, via different stations, so those shifts get added on top of my normal shifts.
There are lots of other opportunities to utilize your training, most of which are quite enjoyable. The annual county fair needs on-site EMS. Fourth of July and other specialty events. I regularly volunteer with my local minor league baseball team, an affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles. We do not get paid for our service, but we do get a small meal voucher. Plus, we get to watch (bad) baseball, put bandaids on skinned knees, and talk to friends and coworkers. While some games are stressful and busy, most are relaxed and entertaining.
It all takes time. Time that probably should be devoted to training and reading and prepping for this massive undertaking I am attempting. But I have a hard time saying ‘no’ to the activities that have defined my summers for a long time. Like I said, it is something I am struggling with, but I am not giving up. Not by a long shot. Hiking this entire trail is something I want to accomplish more than pretty much anything else… I just need to keep reminding myself of that.
I am taking a road trip this weekend to go to a reputable outfitter for some advice on packs, boots/shoes, and sleeping bags. REI has been great for items that I have done my research on, but some of the advice I have been given goes against everything I have read from people who actually hike. I realize that sometimes the “college kids” need to be trained using a video, but if they want to be taken seriously, perhaps some of that training should be in the woods actually using the products they are trying to sell. Ok, rant over. Hopefully this trip will be fruitful and worthwhile. More on that in a later post…
I welcome any tips you may have for staying “motivated” for the training aspect of all of this. If you have any comments, advice, or topic suggestions, please use the comment box below or use the Contact Me page up top.
Until next time, remember to “Spin the Compass.”