After just a few days of backpacking on a trail, all hikers crave the same thing: Fresh Food. Ripe fruit or crunchy vegetables become an obsession and motivation to get to the next place, sometimes just the next step. The lofty hope is that a town will have a restaurant, or perhaps a Trail Angel will provide sustenance.
After several days on the Pacific Crest Trail in Oregon we ended a long day at a lonely little campsite. We set up camp and put in for the night. In the zippered moonlight we noticed a hiker sweep into our area. She was likely a through hiker (a person who treks the entire PCT from Mexico to Canada) who had stomped out many miles since daylight. She popped open her tent like an umbrella and set her stove hissing in anticipation of a fast and hot dinner.
By the time we woke the next morning, she was gone. She’d probably broken camp before the sun rose, but on the rickety picnic table she placed a gift: two perfect mandarin oranges. We had not met her. We hadn’t even made eye contact. She just knew we were hikers and hikers crave fresh food. Her generosity lightened her load and gave incredible delight and refreshment to our hike.
This simple and elegant gesture of generosity was stabilizing and restorative to the giver and the receiver.
When we give from an ample place, we release oxytocin which helps us feel connected, to ourselves and others. It simply feels good. When we are generous, we signal that a place of abundance exists. Our embodiment and reflection of generosity invites others to keep the flow going.
NOTE: Giving from a place of resentment and depletion is barbed. Check your pack and your motivation. We all know that you can’t give well from an empty pack. When so many of us are running on fumes and candy wrappers at this point, it’s important to take breaks large, small, and tiny to reset, replenish and refresh that soul space.
Assess your resources and ask yourself what you need, and what you can let go of NOW. Then share a little citrus of your own on the trail. Our effect on the world around us will be greater and sweeter than we realize.
Lisa Wellington is a Certified Mindfulness Teacher who writes about integrative practices that downshift stress, increase insight, and jumpstart joy.
She is best known for her work with law enforcement professionals as well as those challenged by housing instability and addiction. Trained in the Fine Arts at Washington State University, she specializes in group training that engages participants’ inherent creativity.
If she is not under a stack of books about psychology and spirituality, she can be found at a Puget Sound beach or nearby trail, always searching for the absurd, which is her superpower.