Another autumn hike in the mountains. On our last hike in the Adirondacks we showed up early for peak fall color. This week in the Catskills we arrived a little late. Still, these mountains around me are breathtaking under any conditions.
An ascent to Windham High Peak, followed by meandering through the woods and along the escarpment that overlooks the Mohawk and Hudson Valleys to the north and the Catskill ranges to the south. We had come in two cars, dropping one at the finish and parking the other at the start. That gave us the novelty of a point-to-point hike.
We talked about the concept of one window opening in our lives while another is closing.
The window that’s opening is having more time to do things like take a midweek hike. As a self-employed writer, I’m accustomed to controlling my time, at least in terms of scheduling flexibility. I can take this all-day hike on Thursday knowing I have a block of time on Saturday to finish a project I’m working on.
This window that’s opening window isn’t just giving me time flexibility, it’s giving me more availability. I’m not working as much as I once did. I’m at the slowly winding down stage. One advantage of working less is I have the time to give my best for the work I put in for clients or on my writing. I have more hours I can devote to writing that Great American Novel! I also have more time to pursue new interests or follow my favorite ones.
But the window that’s closing is my capabilities—physical and mental. I may have more time to do things, but how much longer will I be able to handle the physical rigor of all-day hikes in the mountains? What is my window of opportunity for bike-riding the Erie Canal from Buffalo to Albany—or riding a bike across the country, one of those long-held fantasies whose outlines are fading? Is there any possible way I might walk the Appalachian Trail in my remaining years?
The evidence of the weighty window: I don’t get on my mountain bike much, my running days are mostly over. My tennis season has ended early due to an arm injury.
I should have good years left—unless I don’t, because who the hell really knows? The fickle finger of fate lies in wait everywhere. But I should be able to write another book if I want, even though what used to be a one-thousand-words-a-day pace during intense writing periods is closer to five hundred words now. I definitely expect to be back on the tennis court. And new hiking boots are on my birthday wish list. Travel to other cities and countries should be manageable for years to come.
I tell myself: keep that second window propped open for as long as you can. Keep going, keep going, keep going—also, quiet down for a minute and take in that view. That mountain. That stream. That sky. That window is wide open.