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Thursday, September 2, 2010: An Introvert and an Extrovert go for a Walk up the Mountain

           I’ve just returned from vacationing with R., my husband, in upper state New York. The main purpose of our trip was research on the Erie Canal for a paper R. is working on. Mornings were spent wandering around museums or standing outside state buildings, while my husband talked with curators and engineers. Occasionally, I would be brought in to photographic close-ups of maps or old photos. In the afternoon, we biked along miles and miles of the Erie Canal, stopping so I could take photos of feeder canals, old aqueducts, waste-weirs, and locks. I thought I was quite patient, considering that after a while everything starts looking the same, and also considering none of these were photos I could add to my own albums.

       When we finally finished the research part of the trip, we drove up into the Adirondacks and took our first non-business hike. It sounded so reasonable: a one-mile hike up Blue Mountain. Little did we realize how challenging it would be hiking from stone to stone over run-off areas, and trying not to slip on huge slabs still wet from earlier rains.

      I was thrilled (I mean deep-down thrilled) to discover mushrooms---loads of mushrooms and lichen---all along the trail. It is such a rare occurrence to be out hiking during an explosion of fungal growth.  How could one not take advantage of the opportunity?

          I, the mushroom lady, was in photographic heaven, stopping to get down on my knees despite mud and leaves, unconcerned that my butt was sticking up in the air and I looked totally undignified. I could not resist taking photos every few feet.

      R. can be a patient man, but I could tell when his patience began wearing thin, and I understood why.  My husband is an extrovert. R. hikes nature trails to get a good workout while enjoying expansive views of mountains, forests, and meadows. I am an introvert: the perpetual five-year-old, stopping to check out leaves and bugs, moss and lichen.

        “Haven’t you already photographed something just like that mushroom?” he began saying after the first half hour. He would pass a mushroom and look back over his shoulder, horrified I'd be stopping once again.

        “It took us two hours to get up to the top because you were stopping so often,” he pointed out when we finally stood looking out from the Blue Mountain firetower.

        All right. I’d done well enough that I put the camera away for the trip down to humor him. Yet I couldn’t help pointing out that it took us one hour and forty-five minutes to get back down.

         By the next day’s walk, I’d wised up. The cold, hard truth is that I seldom have been that enthralled with the views of our final destinations. I am far more fascinating in little details along the way. How long has it taken me to realize we do not have to always hike as a couple? There is nothing wrong with letting my husband go ahead at his own pace while I wander behind, stopping to take photos. He can always reconnect on the way down.

(I'll refrain from adding more photos)

      Sometimes I fear I will miss a really great shot if I don’t reach the end of the path. Sometimes I feel guilty that I must reach the final destination or goal to say, “Yes, I’ve done that,” or to share some physical accomplishment with my husband. How silly.  If I am being true to the introvert within, I am always happiest focusing on the treasures and discoveries of the journey itself. 

          I think I’ve let myself get too caught up in society’s focus on “doing” and forgotten about “being in the moment.” For now, that means mushrooms, lots of mushrooms.

Posted on Thursday, September 2, 2010 at 06:14AM by Registered CommenterThe Skeptical Mystic | CommentsPost a Comment

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