By journey’s end, my stepson shone with the same self-assurance as the Dutch long-distance walker. He had walked about 420 kms in a month, while carrying around 20 kgs up and down NZ’s unforgiving inclines, for many hours every day. He lost flab and gained muscle.
But increased physical fitness was just the beginning of a long list of gains that started with the body and finished with the mind. In a Facebook post later, he called the experience “life changing.”
To his mother’s delight, he threw himself into his studies and began to knock off high marks. He got involved in extracurricular activities and started leading from the front. He stayed off junk food, took up Yoga and meditation, kept the weight off, got back into surfing, and grew his hair long. He was on a roll.
But if he was on a life-changing ascent, I started a long and seemingly endless tumble downhill.
It perplexed me. Thirty days of tramping through the South Island’s natural beauty had worked for him but not for me.
What had gone wrong?