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(continued from Part 1)

You get a new perspective when you’re away from home and without Internet and running water. Things become simple. Decisions automatic. Hungry: Eat. Lumber needs to move: Carry it.

American Hiking Society Volunteer CrewAlthough the trailwork we completed during our week at the Sunkhaze Meadows National Wildlife Refuge was challenging and felt like the most important feat while we worked, I kept thinking about all the other parks around the country that need the same repairs. It took 8 people to invest a week of their time alongside 3 members of the park service to fix one trail. In the grand scheme of things: Did our efforts amount to anything?

Of course the local folks of Milford, Maine are having an easier time navigating their hikes at the refuge, but it’s work that will never be done. Eventually saplings will take root and threaten the trail’s access and will need to be removed. The beams and boards we carried and nailed down will one day rot and will need to be replaced. It’s just part of an ever-renewing project.

As writers, does effort matter? So many writers in my critique group have drafts of their novels. It’s just part of their own never-ending projects. That novel will need to be revised, and that’s a ton of work, but think about the long journey of finding a literary agent, sending query letters, and then promoting the book. A writer can never sit back and be done. 

But maybe, for a week here and there, you can escape and get a new perspective. Figure out what holes in your plot need to be patched or what type of writing you love the most. For me, that’s poetry. What about you?

Here’s a poem I wrote while staying at the refuge’s cabin last week:

Mud

A bear hug to your foot
as you walk along the earth
you thought you knew
you need to stop sometimes
even if you don’t want to
even if you don’t realize
you need to be still

the mud is just dirt and water
in another life it was dust and rain
and maybe in this moment
when you’re stuck—
stubborn like a zipper choking on its teeth
you leave your shoe behind
and let your toes
take you to tomorrow’s trail
where you will build a callous
to carry your life.