Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Serious Mental Debate

For the past 48 hours, my mind has been in serious mental debate of what to do with this trip. I had set in my mind that going for the entire AT was the only thing that I wanted to do, but as soon as Coniston calls me up, the trip was cast in to doubt. Do I play it safe and take up a contract with Coniston and have one more of the classic Coniston summers that I've learned to love? Or do I go all-in and risk it all to see if I can actually pull of the feat of hiking 2171 miles with my own two feet? This debate raged on.

First off, you (meaning me) know that Coniston is always a great time.
Who says that the AT won't be even better? I mean, you have worked at Coniston for six summers already
Yeah, but this position is the type of managment position that you can prove your worth?
Prove what? That you can do a job you've held for the past 6 months? It's true it will be good, but you know you can do it.
Sure, but do I know that I can really hike the entire AT? It's 2171 miles for god sakes. Besides, hiking 1200 miles isn't exactly cake and lollipops. What if you hate it after a month? Break your leg? Get sick? Get poison ivy all over your balls? Then you'd wish you had the security of being able to go back to camp, that's for sure.
What if you get three months in and realize that you could actually pull it off. You - Eric Rightor - could hike the entire AT, but noooo, you have to report to Coniston. Sure, it's not even close to the worst fate ever devised, but this is something you've been dreaming about for years now. Is your dream worth selling for one more summer at Coniston?
Well, the trail isn't really going anywhere.
Neither is Coniston.
Three months isn't bad. Not bad at all.
You're right, but stop being a pessimist. 5 months and finishing what you started is a lot better and you know it.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. But what if...
What if what? You can "what if" yourself up to your eyeballs and you won't get anywhere.
OK. You're right.
I know.
We're both right.
If you say so. We're both you, remember?
Right. Still, 1200 miles after 3 months on the trail, then a summer at Coniston is a great 5 months by any standard.
But is that the goal? You can take that deal, but then you will never know if you could have ever done it all at once. It's not the biggest deal that you finish it all at once, but you will never know if you could have if you don't try.
But you were willing to leave for...
Yeah, yeah, I know, but you can't think about that. That's a special circumstance. This is right now.

This is your one shot at doing this. Pure and simple.

And that's how it ended. After talking with friends and family for hours about this and a couple sleepless nights, it came down to that: This is my one shot to do something truly remarkable and to see it from beginning to finish. No cutting it short. No excuses. This is my one shot to go for it and if you don't take it, it won't come around again. So I made the call, and for the first time since age 10, I'm not going back to Camp Coniston. I'm 23 today actually, just so you know. Whew.

There was a lot more that went into it, but that sums it up. However, there is one more clever tidbit that made the decision a little easier.

Last night, before going to bed, I get a text from Wilson Roberts, a CIT of mine last summer out West. Expecting a "Happy Birthday!!" message to come up, I didn't think much of it when I was scrolling down. It read: "You won't hike all 2000 miles of the AT! You won't"

The boys from Needham know EXACTLY what this means, but many of you may be puzzled by this. Let me explain: If someone told you that you wouldn't do something, you undoubtedly had to do it. It was unwritten law - an formal declaration questioning your very manliness, and if you didn't act upon it, you were doomed to at least of week of ridicule. I told this to Wilson out West who thought it was hilarious. Hence the message.

My response? It's the response that any fine gentleman would have to give.

Say I won't.


  1. This reminds me so strongly of how I felt right before leaving... check it out.

    You are so absolutely right on with your thinking. In a life well lived, there will never be a six month stretch that you can give up without sacrifice. Everywhere you go you'll be leaving something great behind (at least if you're doing it right).

    I can't wait to read your observations as you move forward on this thing. That said, you won't do it, Rightor.

  2. YOU WON'T.

    kyle and i will be watching/reading. :)

  3. dear eric, please hike.

    love, alex's google reader

  4. as much as you will be missed, you made the right choice - and you know it...i know you do.