Thursday, March 18, 2010

Guest Post: Paul V. Stutzman

Paul V. Stutzman, author of the book Hiking Through: Finding Peace and Freedom on the Appalachian Trail, stopped by to share with us a piece he wrote.


In a recent interview, I was asked how I wanted to be remembered and what I wanted my obituary to say. Asking myself the same question in the fall of 2007 was one of the factors that pushed me to make the drastic decision to leave a secure job and do nothing but walk for almost five months.

I admit it—I’d pretty much fallen into the trap of the rat race, running as fast as I could to make as much money as possible. That didn't leave much time in my life for living. Wife, family, God—they pretty much had to settle for whatever leftover bits of time I could find in my busy days.

Then my wife died of breast cancer in 2006, and dying suddenly forced me to think about living. Two-thirds of my life was probably already gone—what had I done with it?

How would my obituary read?

It's too easy to let the hours slip away without evaluating how we’re spending our allotted days. We make decisions based on the immediate need or want. We put off until tomorrow attention to the most important ingredients of life. We try to ignore our mortality and the fact that our days are indeed numbered. We forget that today determines tomorrow.

This talk of mortality is not meant to be morbid—instead, I want to encourage you to find the best ways to live today! Today is your life.

I did quit the job that had consumed my days. I undertook a long and extremely difficult journey to living. But now I have a firm answer to the question. When folks remember me, I hope they say, “He enjoyed the journey.”

About the book:

After losing his wife to breast cancer, Paul Stutzman decided to make some big changes. He quit his job of seventeen years and embarked upon a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, a 2,176-mile stretch of varying terrain spanning fourteen states. During his nearly five-month-long hike, he battled brutal trail conditions and overwhelming loneliness, but also enjoyed spectacular scenery and trail camaraderie.With breathtaking descriptions and humorous anecdotes from his travels, Stutzman reveals how immersing himself in nature and befriending fellow hikers helped him recover from a devastating loss. Somewhere between Georgia and Maine, he realized that God had been with him every step of the way, and on a famous path through the wilderness, he found his own path to peace and freedom.

About Paul:

Paul V. Stutzman left his job and thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail in the summer of 2008, in search of healing as he grieved the loss of his wife. His new book, Hiking Through: Finding Peace and Freedom on the Appalachian Trail, recounts both his experiences on that hike and also his life's spiritual journey from a strict Amish/Mennonite upbringing to a new relationship with God.


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