As a young woman, my heart's desire was to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, south to north through the rugged Cascade Mountains. I wanted to start in Mexico in the spring and get to Canada by fall. It was an attainable goal, if only I had the time. Several three to five-day backpacking trips showed me that I could carry a pretty heavy pack for extended periods. It seemed like a viable dream.
That dream slid into the background as dreams often do in the midst of life's happenings and responsibilities. Still, the yearning lingered.
Years later, my all-but-forgotten goal came to life again. My husband and I were sitting in the living room, making lists and talking about things we wanted to do in our lifetimes. We were in our fifties and were disappointed to see how few we had actually accomplished.
We decided to simplify our lifestyle in order to do some of the things we wanted--travel, photography, and a new writing career for me--but first we needed to prioritize. We completed our list of life goals, checking off what we had accomplished and crossing out things we were no longer interested in.
Our house and garden were taking too much time, so we sold our home and moved into an apartment. Now we had more time and money than before. We did anything we could do to simplify our lives. We discarded nonessentials.
Then we checked our list again and prioritized those goals that we really wanted to achieve. Some were no longer options due to health constraints, but we found a way to make at least one of the dreams come true.
We live in the Pacific Northwest, and the Cascade Mountains are only about ninety minutes away. Hiking a shorter stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail each time was certainly doable, and each hike added to the completion of the goal. I may never hike from Mexico to Canada in one stint, but I adjusted my goals. Now I find joy and satisfaction in dreams that I thought were lost forever.
It was a very important lesson. We don't need to give up our dreams and desires just because we are getting older. With children grown and away from home, a couple has more time for each other. We can revisit our life dreams, discard some and accomplish those that are feasible. We've added new goals to our list and continue to follow our dreams.