But despite all that was amazing about this hike, I had a recurring, bittersweet sense of déjà vu. The saying “same- same but different” kept popping in my mind, as we passed so many amazing sights, that two years ago would have warranted a lengthy stop and numerous photographs from various angles, but now received just a cursory acknowledgement before we continued on.
Maybe it was the combination of the gruelling terrain, sweltering weather conditions, relentless mosquitoes, and a persistent migraine but I definitely felt more focussed on putting one foot in front of the other than in enjoying my surroundings much of the time. And the question we had asked ourselves in the past “why are we punishing ourselves?” came back to haunt me during this trek.
I am also profoundly aware that as we near the end of the Bruce trail, I am struggling with the mixed emotions of completing something that has become such an important part of my life. Of course there is an exhilarating feeling of pride that we will soon accomplish our goal, but there is also a feeling of sadness for the impending loss. I have a new found empathy for all those people I know who struggle with finishing anything they start. There is finality in completion that is comparable to the death of someone dear. In the end all we are left with are memories, photos and blogs.
As I have walked this trail I have seen so many parallels to the larger journey of life. Beginnings are always new and exciting. In the middle stages there is a sense of comfort as we become more proficient and familiar with what we are striving towards. And then as we enter the final stages we often question the purpose of it all and wonder about what is next. And now as I am nearing the end of our journey along the Bruce trail, I am also confronted with the looming possibility of retirement and with that the end of my career and a big part of my identity and purpose.
But with endings come new beginnings and opportunities to move on to the next challenge, the next venture – for Magdalena it is the Camino – for me not sure yet but I’m confident something will capture my spirit soon enough and I will move on. But for now we still have one final weekend to savour and celebrate the Bruce trail….marian