Satisfaction Redux

Back in my younger years, we would go on these monthly weekend backpacking trips with the scouts. Most of them were shorter hikes - ten, twelve miles round trip but, as we got closer to the summer Long Term there would be a longer one tossed in, the dreaded twenty mile shake down, the kind of hike that would make you consider what a stupid idea it all was. Who the heck would want to trudge in the mid-day sun with twenty-five pounds on their back...

Looking back on the process it would be easy to identify it as a way of weeding out those who were not yet ready. And while I am sure that happened, I am equally sure that view is a short-sighted one; there was more to it than a simple selection process. Satisfaction and accomplishment. When you worked through all those shorter backpack weekends, and suffered, yes suffered, through that 20-miler your thirteen year old self was entitled to wring every ounce of meaning from those two words. You had overcome a physical goal, breached a mental barrier.

Sunday past, I had one of my periodic Slow Sunday Scenes in the Village kind of mornings. I took a seat, or several seats actually since I tend to move around, and watched the world go by. It was disheartening really, the constant stream of motor vehicles into and out of Claremont's overburdened little downtown, each housing a driver looking for that ever-elusive closest spot to where ever it was they wanted to be. Every so often someone would find that spot, it is inevitable, and I could hear them shout, "YES." Or maybe I was just projecting since that is what I would do in a similar situation. I could kind of sense satisfaction in that "YES", but then I realized that in comparison it should probably just be "yes?". I mean satisfaction, by my definition, tends to come as the result of some accomplishment - a twenty mile weekend with full pack, for instance, graduating with honors or, oh, I don't know, how about riding into the Village for a change. Sure a basket loaded with produce from the farmer's market is going to slow you down on your way back out, but once done it is a hell of a lot more satisfying than pressing on a gas pedal - every time.