Why We Hike

Hiking is defined as walking for a long distance, particularly in the woods or countryside.

Jonathan loves to hike.

He likes the quiet of being out in nature apart from the noises of a bustling household, a crowded car, and talkative people.

He especially wants to escape talkative people.

You see, Jonathan’s biggest challenge is talking. He has other challenges. He was diagnosed with pervasive developmental disorder as a young child and he has experienced learning delays throughout his lifetime. But the challenge he struggles with most is not being able to speak clearly. That is what he wishes he could do like everyone else.

But because he can’t, at least not intelligibly enough for most to understand, he enjoys the quiet of walking.

Every Saturday he lets me know he’s ready for a hike. I know what he is saying. I know him well enough to understand. He wants some time alone with me, time when I’m not distracted with talking to anyone else, time when he won’t have to compete with talkers for my attention, time when I will just be with him.

So, we hike.

I go willingly, almost eagerly these days, because I want to spend this time with him. My life, although full, has a little more room in it now that my other children have launched into their adult lives. Now, I have more time for Jonathan.

Now, he can have more of my undivided attention.

And now I am ready to find out what he is thinking. I want to learn by watching him as he thinks and feels and engages with his environment.

What is he thinking about? What does it feel like to be Jonathan? What makes him happy; what makes him sad; what makes him feel alive? Why does he laugh, cry, or get angry?

In this blog series I hope to find answers to these questions. I will begin with what I know about Jonathan’s story from my perspective, the things I remember from his earliest days. But Jonathan is not a child anymore. He is an adult, a young man. He no longer needs or wants me to define his life. He defines it for himself. I hope to discover more about who he is and what he wants out of life from his perspective.

This is my aim as I hike with Jonathan.

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We live in a fast paced society. Walking slows us down. Robert Sweetgall

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