Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Perfect High

Written By: Katherine "Ringleader" Imp

I’m high. Right now. Sitting on the public bus. Listening to music. At 8am. Next to a dude that smells like urine. I’m high as a kite.

My mama told me when I was young
We’re all born superstars

Should I be waiting for the other shoe to drop? This is absurd! I haven’t cried once since leaving the trail. I haven’t felt angry or sad or lost or bored in 7 months!

She rolled my hair, put my lipstick on
In the glass of her boudoir

This can’t be normal. Maybe I should see a doctor about this.

There’s nothin’ wrong with lovin’ who you are,
She said, ‘Cause He made you perfect, babe

Or maybe . . . I finally found it.

So hold your head up, girl and you’ll go far,
Listen to me when I say

The perfect high.

I’m beautiful in my way,
Cause God makes no mistakes
I’m on the right track, baby

Before law school, I taught a few wilderness courses with Outward Bound and Landmark Volunteers and one of my favorite stories to share was, “The Perfect High,” written by Shel Silverstein. It’s a story about a drug addict, named Gimmie-Some-Roy, who was in search of the perfect high. He went “up a trail no man could conquer, to a cliff no man could climb. . . . He’d sit and cry, then climb some more, pursuing the perfect high.”

And of course good ole’ Baba Fats, whose wisdom Roy had sought, gave the answer that no one likes, which was: Find it in yourself!

Great poem. Great writer. Great message. But I'm not sure I completely agree -- If I had found the “perfect high” within myself before the trail, would I have ever attempted a thru-hike? Would anyone?

I’ve always been intrigued by nature’s ability to transform. It’s the sole reason why I worked for Outward Bound, why I obsess over the show Survivor, and why I threw myself (and my two closest loved ones) on a trail for 5 months. When you take away comfort, familiarity, and societal norms, and throw yourself into a pool of strangers, you are bound to learn something. Outdoor adventure is a catalyst to finding that perfect high.

Kurt Hahn, the founder of Outward Bound, once said, “There is more in us than we know. If we can be made to see it, perhaps for the rest of our lives we will be unwilling to settle for less.”

On the Appalachian Trail, some people found that “perfect high” in the tranquility of its natural landscape. Some found it in the social community or physical challenge. And some found it in a joint. But for me, the perfect high came from the journey of it all.

Hiking in the woods for five months was hard. Traveling in a group was harder. Traveling with a camera and time constraints nearly broke us. But we all came out of it . . . better. Better at relationships, better at communication, better at understanding our own needs and wants, and most importantly, better at finding that perfect high we all strive for.

My name is Ringleader. I practice law, and watch Survivor, and listen to Lady Gaga. I like pushing boundaries, breaking stereotypes, and doing things that scare me. I dream big. I created this blog/documentary to spread love, knowledge, and inspiration onto others as my mentors have done for me. I’m high as a kite. This is only the beginning. Keep up with me.

I was born this way ….


  1. Good post, Kate! I really like that Kurt Hahn quote. I'll try to remember it more often.

  2. Kate, you are such an inspiration! I'm so happy to call you my friend. :)

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  4. Awesome article, great read. Keep up the good blog!