“Great things are done when man and mountains meet.”
When the great poet William Blake spoke those words almost 200 years ago, I can only imagine he had no way of knowing that they would come to life right here in Eastern Tennessee in 2017. He could not possibly have foreseen that my friend, Benny, would live out exactly what he meant.
For the past 2 months Benny has been on a quest of epic status. On January 1 of this year, he set out to hike every inch of trail miles in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park by the end of the year. That is a Massive undertaking since most people take years to complete hiking a map.
But just a few weeks into the journey, he decided that maybe he could break the current record of hiking each and every trail..
The Current record is 4 months and 12 days.
This Saturday Benny will complete his journey, setting a new record of 2 months and 19 days.
Oh, did I mention that there are over 800 miles of trails in the Smoky Mountains?
I remember very vividly seeing Benny make the post about going for the record. At the time I had never met Benny, but we are both members of the same Facebook hiking group, and I was well aware of who we was and the enormous task before him. I instantly joined his page, so I could follow along with his journey.
This man was phenomenal. With each and every post he made me feel like I was part of his journey. Every few days we were treated with an update, and the most beautiful pictures.
I was instantly a fan girl!
By chance, I was able to meet Benny at an event we were both attending at the first of February. One would think going after such an ambitious record would give you a swollen ego, and extra large head, but sitting and chatting with Benny for those couple of hours was like catching up with an old friend. Within seconds, I knew he was the most down to earth, humble person I have ever had the honor of meeting. Of course I had to go all fan girl and get a selfie with him and another friend of ours.
Personally meeting Benny, made following his journey even more sweeter. Now I was invested in his success.
But following Benny’s journey also got me to thinking about my own.
Struggling with my injured foot, life stresses, and just being plain tired, had caused me to put off fully seeking completing my own map. “Those mountains aren’t going anywhere. I have all the time in the world to finish.”
But watching the passion that Benny exhibited, the fire within me was lit to immediately get serious about what I needed to do to complete my own map.
Those mountains may not be going anywhere, but I am not guaranteed tomorrow. Watching Benny actively pursue his dream showed me, that NOW is the time. Don’t put off what you are passionate about until later. Later may never come.
For the past month and half, I have worked obsessively on a plan to help ensure that I will finish my own map hopefully by the end of next year.
This Saturday, I will join my fellow hiking community as we come together to celebrate the final leg of Benny’s amazing journey. I will watch with tremendous pride as my friend takes his final steps towards his dream.
Benny may not be aware, but he has inspired many. In him we see what happens when you want something bad enough, and you work hard to make it happen. He sacrificed time with his wife and children. Time away from work. Time to just sit and relax. He went out cold,wet, sick, tired, and hungry, but never once did he post a complaint.
How could he….he was living his dream.
Harriet Tubman once said,
“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars, to change the world.”
Benny has reached for the stars, and while he may not entirely change the world with this phenomenal record breaking hike, he has definitely changed the hearts and the lives of those who have been following him.
Great things indeed.