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Attitude is What Determines....Altitude

I remember when the Appalachian Trail hike started in 2005. It was supposed to last for over 2,000 miles and well over six months. It was not a nice walk in the woods but a living hell where the elements showed absolutely no mercy. The walk goes on forever! There were a lot of reasons to cry over it even though hikers understood they were technically doing this to themselves with nobody forcing them to walk for this amount of time. At the same time, there was a sense of attitude that seeped its way into our daily routine. I eventually realized that for the first time ever it was possible to consume any type of food on the planet and not gain a pound. For most people, it is scientifically impossible to gain weight while hiking over ten miles every single day. It was also an adventure when we were entitled toward victory as long as we refused to give up. In real life, working extremely hard and not stopping usually helps, but it is hardly a guarantee toward achieving victory. Some illnesses and catastrophes would obviously halt our plans but as long as we could put one foot in front of the other we would be fine! Everybody gets a trail name and lots of Appalachian Trail hikers go through the entire experience without anyone knowing their real name. It is usually another hiker that bestows them with a trail name and mine happened to be "LoJack" due to the fact that my mother made me come to the hike with a Beacon Locator Device that was promptly sent back home the third day due to its weight.

The word, “attitude” has often been used in criticism such as, “You need to change your attitude.” But it has not often been used in a positive sense with someone saying, “I really like your attitude,” at least from my experiences. I have often wondered whether someone affected by terrible circumstances is able to actually develop a positive attitude to get them through what can only be described as a “living nightmare.” Someone who has lost everything after a devastating house fire could understand that this is not really the end of the world but a new beginning. It is a chance for them to not necessarily rebuild all of their destroyed memories, but build stronger ones in the most profound way possible. Grandma Gatgewood was a legendary hiker on the Appalachian Trail who eventually succumbed to old age and senility. During her lucid years she explained that it is "head over heel." The means that the mental prowess is probably more important than the physical endurance for even the most headstrong hiker. (Anyone recall the "Tortoise and the Hare" fable?)

Some of this “attitude determines altitude” stuff came when it was too late. I sometimes fantasize about the time when I had to write my first book, “Atypical.” My attitude at the time is that I had seven long months to complete the epic project. So much darn time! I also wanted everything to be absolutely perfect, which meant that it was difficult to get started for fear of doing a terrible job. The second time that I had a chance to complete a book, the attitude was that I would focus on actually creating something even if the attempt turned out to be disastrous. It would not matter if the chapter were the most terrible chapter in the entire world. My attitude was that having something is better than nothing out of blind fear!

When we find ourselves in desperate circumstances then perhaps having a good attitude is going to be the one thing that brings us back from the brink of desperation. Completing unpleasant tasks such as cleaning a filthy bathroom could be accomplished with a positive attitude. There was one night when I tried bringing my portable DVD player in the bathroom and the task became a little less repulsive when a favorite move was playing. Every task crossed of that “To-Do List” becomes a micro-celebration.

It has been impossible so far to find the right attitude that is going to allow me to lose weight, but I am still trying. One of my favorite movies is playing at the Madison Theatre by the College of Saint Rose campus…Edward Scissorhands! My idea is to make the two-hour walk all the way to the theatre. The coldness of winter is finally setting into the Capital Region. This means a lack of sunshine as well as the burden of winter clothes. It also means…no mosquitoes, Lyme Disease, poison ivy, stinging insects, sunburn, and less water to carry. I am walking toward a reward…an entitlement in which to watch a movie that I have seen a million times and not feel like it is a waste of time. The next two days will tell whether I shall actually follow through with these good intentions, however.

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