Two years ago this weekend, a friend and I backpacked into the Mountain Lakes Wilderness and camped with insufficient gear on a 24 degree night.
After a four mile hike, we arrived at dusk. With the temperature dropping and realizing I had forgotten my gloves, we hurriedly searched for wood to start a fire.
We shivered in our summer bags, curled our knees to our chests and waited for morning, fitfully sleeping and wondering if we should make a run for the cars.
It was week 9 of my 2018 30-week sleep outside challenge, and I was still cavalierly packing my bag while testing how little I could bring.
We endured the night, and the next morning, were granted a sunny hike out. We spoke of the future and dreams and joyfully skipped down the trail.
It was the fall after we filmed Phoenix, Oregon and the beginning of the release cycle. My friend (and business partner) and I excitedly pondered distribution and marketing.
I asked what she hoped and expected. She said that she didn’t really have any expectations, just… “don’t give up.”
That’s stuck with me.
But it’s not easy. And I’m not even sure what “not giving up” means anymore. At life? At making it through 2020? At living well — lovingly and fully? At success? At releasing the film into the world? We’ve certainly done all of these things to varying degrees. Are we done? Is “not give up” quantifiable, qualitative? Or does it just mean finishing? In whatever form it takes. If so, is the finish line defined? How? By a goal or process?
I’m not the same person I was two years ago on that chilly hike.
I’ve been chiseled and challenged, invigorated and inspired, upended and loved.
Through this last push, when I’m on the verge of “giving up”, maybe I won’t.