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Take a Hike | Commentary by Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel
| Sunday, Sep 6, 2015

DianneErskineHellrigel“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”

St. Francis of Assisi

 

No matter how much time we have left, we need to make the most of it. We have no excuse not to do everything, see everything, experience everything that life has to offer. Make a bucket list and check off the items as fast as you can. If you finish everything on the bucket list, make a new one. But go for it … don’t wait.

Even if you’re young and healthy, you might not be next week. You need to live every minute like it could be your last, and when you get to my age, you’ll be amazed at how much you’ve managed to cram into your life.

For me, my first bucket list was to travel to the 75 countries I’ve seen and to climb as many mountains as I physically could. I think I’ve done a decent job with that bucket list, so I’m starting another.

I’m going to start looking at some different mountains now. Some of you might still consider them high, but considering what I’ve done in my younger days, these hills may not be too challenging.

There are still a few countries on my list, but Isis and German pilots have been keeping me grounded for a while. Maybe Mr. Trump will loan me his plush aircraft and crew. (Not on the bucket list.)

campfire_tentI love to sleep in the woods, to spend an evening by the campfire and just reflect on life – where I’ve been and where I’m going. My favorite countries to visit have been Tanzania, Morocco and China. I’ve been to Tanzania 26 times, Morocco 16 times and China six times. The Galapagos and the Amazon jungle were pretty cool, too. I guess I need to see everything else before I repeat those big three again, but they keep calling me back. I love to wake up to the sound of birds and the smell of pine trees. Waterfalls are another treat. I never get tired of Yosemite in the spring, or some of the world’s greatest sites like the Great Wall of China. I loved SCUBA diving in the Galapagos.

Namibia, Zimbabwe and Botswana in Africa are still calling my name. This world has so much to offer a vagabond like me. I still want to see Papua, New Guinea, and the Whirling Dervish. I want to trek in Patagonia and spend more time in New Zealand. I want to backpack with a Llama.

I kissed a llama once in Peru, and he kissed me back. I love to commune with nature. The llama must have sensed that. When I left him, another tourist approached him, and he spat on her. Somewhere in my 90,000-plus collection of photos, I have one of the llama and me touching foreheads.

I have it in the back of my head that at some point I’ll need to settle down. I think that’s a long way off. I hope it is, at least. I still have a lot of things to accomplish, both in my career and my life goals.

Airport in Nepal

Airport in Nepal

Life is complicated … and it never seems like there will be enough time. I’ve had several friends my age die too early. This makes one think about that inevitability, and if I knew I had only a short time left here on this Earth, what would I do? Do I head out on a plane with that German pilot? I think so. I’d take the chance. I did take a huge risk in Nepal on a tiny plane, landing at the highest altitude airport with the world’s worst safety record. Obviously my pilot did a good job of getting me there and back. And what a story I have to tell about that. I think a few more chances and a few more great adventures are in the cards for me.

A good outlook on life is the best thing one can possess. I’ve always tried to find the best in people, in a country I visit, in my critics. My mother had so much hope for me. She wanted me to experience everything. I’m trying. She wanted me to leave this Earth in a better state than when I came. I’m trying. She wanted me to live in harmony and peace. I shook the hand of a critic yesterday. (So I am trying.)

I hope that every one of you can find the peace and happiness I have. That is what I wish for you. Hugs.

 

Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel is executive director of the Community Hiking Club and president of the Santa Clara River Watershed Conservancy. Contact Dianne through communityhikingclub.org or at zuliebear@aol.com.

 

 

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3 Comments

  1. Evelyne Vandersande says:

    Dianne, thank you for the reminder. You are so right, we are like kids thinking that life will go on for ever and ever. We tend to always put work in the first place and forget to have fun and carve out time for fun.

  2. Lise' M says:

    In my years of knowing you, you have been nothing but an inspiration to me. I have done more things I was scared to do or imagined I would do since I have met you. You are a great influence on others and I love how you live life. Sit down, shut up and hang on – oh, and savor every moment. Love you!

  3. Dog10 says:

    Great but first (John 3:16.

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