One of my favorite things about hiking on the Appalachian Trail (the famous foot path that runs from Georgia to Maine), is the log books that are placed in most trail-side shelters. One of my favorite things I ever read in a hiker log was from someone who claimed to have hiked 30 miles that day and who wrote “Just hike more, you’ll feel better.”
I have come to realize how true this is. If I am ever feeling tired, worn-down, or burned-out, I just remember to keep hiking. Distance runners talk about the “barriers” they have to break through in order to keep running: times that they just want to give up but if they push through them, the running will get easier. If I have taken a break from work to eat, it sometimes feels like I will never get back off the couch and return to being productive. But when I do finally pry myself away from my hedonism, I gain momentum very quickly. The other night, I got started on a project despite my sloth mood and before I knew it, it was 3:00am and I had been working the whole time.
Especially during my DMA auditions, I have had to remind myself to just hike more. I have spent the weekends on planes, in hotels, performing auditions, and attending information sessions so my weeks have been jam-packed with trying to catch up on work. But I’m not complaining! Through the whole thing, I have found salvation in this version of the “perseverance” message: “just hike more”.
What the hiker is really saying is that he is energized by the very thing which is draining him. Paradoxically, he must overcome his exhaustion by engaging in more activity – activity which he loves. I think that is what I have found: that I am energized by the pursuance of my craft. Although making music and working can be draining, it also gives me life. And I believe this is why musicians are particularly hard workers; we are energized by the very work which tires us out. One can find the same phenomenon with anyone who is passionate about their work.
This realization has been incredibly comforting. I now know, if I’m ever tired or worn-down, I just need to hike more!