After years and years of searching for a trail name, I have finally found the name that best fits me: Bodhi Bear.
A trail name, for those of you who may be wondering, is a name hikers give themselves and use while on the trail. I’ve hiked many sections of the Appalachian Trail, but I’ve never been happy with a trail name that fits me. Bodhi Bear is a good fit for several reasons, and I liken this “hike” to be more of a life journey than one spent exclusively deep in the woods on a narrow path.
“Bodhi” comes from the Bodhi Tree, under which Siddhartha sat for a very long time achieving enlightenment. Afterward, Siddhartha spent another week facing the tree, unblinking, in unconditional gratitude. The Bodhi Tree, adorned by its beautiful heart-shaped leaves, takes a long time to reach its own maturity, usually 100 to 3000 years.
In my lifetime, I have often been nicknamed “bear” by my friends. I like the description of “bear” on the bodhibear.com website (not mine in any way, but I recommend you check it out for some good spiritual information): “Bears are are peaceful yet powerful protectors of those in their care, as are the bodhisattvas who forgo their own ultimate liberation to instead remain in the wheel of life to act as teachers, guides and protectors of all sentient beings on the path to enlightenment. Bears also remind us to find balance between our active, goal-oriented lives, and the times when we want to be quiet, introspective, and restful.”
The combination of these two words, I think, really describes my life path in seeking enlightenment and balance in a gentle, yet powerful way. I know that there are other hikers out there with the same trail name; that’s unavoidable, I think. For me, I know this is the right name, and I will use it often along this journey.