Guest post from Amanda Marino: A Moment in Time
Thank you to Amanda Marino for sharing the following piece with us about her 2017 trip with us last year in the Dolomites! Amanda ran cross country and track for Villanova University. Since graduating in 2011, she has competed in the 2012 and 2016 USA Olympic Team Trials Marathons. She currently teaches 8th grade English Language Arts in Point Pleasant Beach, NJ, and she has her sights set on breaking the 2:40 barrier and qualifying for her third OTM in 2020.
“...any chance I could talk you into this?!” Sarah casually asked at the end of a quick email.
It started as an idea.
“This looks f*cking awesome” I thought, as I browsed through the trip itinerary, each enticing photo making me higher on possibility.
But what exactly about running the day away, being a little bit dirty all the time, and sticking out as a cultural sore thumb did I, or Sarah, or anyone for that matter, believe would be so awesome? The scenery? The people? The challenge?
Is there a difference between the idea of something and the actual thing?
Objectively, no matter how big an idea seems, if followed through, the execution of the idea will eventually exist as a mere moment in time. During this moment, however long, can one even perceive quickly enough to garner a full appreciation? Or does it all happen too fast?
Whether or not we admit it, we wonder: in seeking adventure, what is it that makes us voluntarily undertake a considerable amount of planning, preparation, and, sometimes, pain?
Maybe the thrills and challenges we seek are not necessarily for the present moment. Instead, we pursue them because they give us something infinite to latch onto. We can’t always be experiencing a thrill, but if we create one at least some of the time, we can channel the memory and find solace in the very fact that these moments are possible.
Early on in our trip, as we traversed the unusually white and lustrous dolomite-laden terrain, we shared moments of rich conversation. We discussed those things that can be defined--the things that, on the surface, make one person seem so much different than the other.
With each day that passed, however, nature created a synchronization of our bodies, and as we became comfortable with simplicity, we were granted moments of peaceful silence.
I recall, during one of these quieter moments, a moment of introspection. I found myself reflecting on my teenage years--summers spent hiking and camping on the Appalachian Trail with a group that was not much different from the one beside me. I remember, as each summer neared its end, and the physical and emotional demands of the trip, as they always do, became forgotten, the pleasant memories were all that remained. It wasn’t until that moment, 14 years later, during my first trip abroad, that those memories resurfaced and transformed into a stark understanding of the pure power of nature.
There is something about the natural world that exposes the most raw version of oneself.
Last August, as we trekked on, and our constructed moment ticked closer to its eventual presence as a memory, we each discovered insights about ourselves. Our shared awakenings led us toward a collective, unspoken discovery of the human condition. It’s fascinating--we have to minimize the things we think we need in order to maximize the things we know about ourselves.
That self-discovery, those memories, and those moments of raw, unfiltered humanity have become an everlasting part of my identity. Until I’m once again surrounded by marmots and grappa and ciao, I can draw from the memories of those things to recreate the experience in my mind, and in a lifetime of fleeting moments, that’s all any one of us ever really needs.