I am shocked by how many people view jury duty not as a privilege, but as a nuisance, to the point where strategies to avoid serving are performed. I just want to scream "Do you realize how lucky we are?!" Of all the things we take for granted in our society/country... to complain about a system put in place to make sure that the common man can judge its own, providing for a more fair and equal system within our judicial process. Granted, most cases that go before a jury are incredibly boring... but to the person who has something at stake, it is an important day with an important outcome.
Last week I served on a jury for a parental rights termination case. It is pretty intense to think that eleven other jurors and I decided the trajectory of these children's lives (and in a sense, their parents). We heard testimonies Monday-Thursday and closing arguments/deliberations on Friday... a long week of listening to dramatic life stories and events. Being in the courtroom was really interesting - seeing the strategies of different attorneys (5 involved in this case), objections, evidence, etc. Honestly... it was a lot like the movies. Overall, I just felt honored to be a part of the process.
I was happy to be summoned and even happier to be selected. The content was not pleasant... but the process was really interesting and so very important to the civic standards of our community.
The stunning beauty of nature. Often overlooked or taken for granted, Earth provides us with unimaginable sights. From the vast desert emptiness, to dense forestry, and cascading mountains, the trail allows you to see some of America's finest land.
The people. There is a community that surrounds these long distance trails that is full of unique personalities and people you'll never forget.
The unique experience. Much like studying abroad, it was a very appealing thought to be fully removed from my comfort zone and have nature as my new home, living out of a 20-30 pound backpack for months.
My untethered life. Rather than being disappointed with a lack of stability and commitment in my life, I wanted to embrace it. I wanted to do something I would not have ever thought to do had plan A worked out in life.
So for the past eleven moths I have been planning, buying gear, dehydrating food, training, and anxiously awaiting this epic adventure I was about to go on. I notified work, told countless friends and family, etc. I had poured hours and hours into preparation and had filled my heart and mind with committed excitement.
And then I got hurt.
I wish I could say "I broke my leg" or "I fell down the stairs" or "I did _____ and ____ happened." But it wasn't that simple. Roughly 3 weeks before I was supposed to leave, I woke up and my leg starting hurting. I thought I must have slept on it strangely... but over the next several days the pain got increasingly worse. It was extremely uncomfortable to even take my dog on a walk around the neighborhood. Obviously worried, I went to the doctor and found out I have chronic tendinitis which has resulted in a pulled tendon where my hamstring meets my knee. Nothing caused it... it just developed - unluckily a few weeks before my adventure. With physical therapy, there was a chance I would be healed in time for the trail, but with a pretty high risk of re-injury.
So I then had to decide... try my best to quickly fix it and hit the trail? Give up my job and trade in my good health insurance for my crappy health insurance with the hope of not getting injured again? I posted on hiker forums to help me decide what to do. Generally, people agreed it wasn't worth the risk and the objective decision would be to not go this year.
So now I have a lot of really awesome gear, three months worth of dehydrated food, a ton of excel sheets and documents and maps with details and back up plans... and nowhere to go. I feel incredibly disappointed... I don't even know how to describe it. I feel like something so special to me was just taken from me... before I ever got to have it.
But, as many of the hikers have told me - "The trail will be there waiting for me." And that is true. I have to remember that I have decades of adventure still ahead of me. That the trail will be just as epic in 2014 or in 2020 or whenever as it would have been in 2013.
The good news...
As much as I don't like my job, I'm grateful to have it. I was able to get it back just before they interviewed people to replace me.
I try to remind myself that it is better that this happened before I left and not a few weeks in.
I go back to my normal life... lucky for me, I like my normal life. It is not an epic adventure, but I have good friends and little things to look forward to.
Adventures are still in the works... hopefully at the end of the summer with C! Road trip to some national parks?
Life... with its ups and downs. Just keep smiling and moving along.
I'll leave you with one of the many beautiful images from along the PCT.
Jessica and I recently took a ceramics class at the Norman Firehouse Center. I loved having a set time every week that I got to spend with Jessica - even better that it was spent trying something new and creative! The class was extremely relaxed - a teacher was there to help with questions, but it was mostly on your own. There were about 10 others in our class, ranging in skill level across the spectrum. I really enjoyed getting to know some of them through our occasional chats.
Ceramics is way harder than it looks... don't gripe about paying high prices for hand crafted goods! I felt like I was finally getting the hang of it just as the class was wrapping up, but I am happy with my little creations.
One of my classmates positively said that no matter how questionable the piece you make is, its better than the lump of dirt it began as.
These are two... wine cups? Really heavy shot glasses?
A candle holder? Candy cup?
I made two bowls! Perfect for ice cream, yogurt, etc.
This one swirled neatly in the middle.
And three coffee cups! They are kind of small for me though... but I don't mind refills.
They are by no means perfect... but they're fun because I made them!