Take your memories when you go, but leave no footprint behind.
Take a walk with me.I’m not a hiker, actually. Nor am I a biker, a wanderer, or an adventurist. You won’t find me out in the woods, unless it’s hugging fast to a curve along the paved road. I stumble enough through life, despite my destined path, to go taking a header into a cold river in the middle of nowhere. I will live vicariously through the minds of Cheryl Strayed and Bill Bryson, hikers of two famous trails on opposite ends of our America.
Even when I was young, the only need I ever had to go far from here was because home was a place I was afraid to be. In 44 years, I have stayed because like any other dysfunction, home is what I know. Fear and sadness and anger are familiar rooms to lock myself away in. The sun is a cloud that darkens my every step, causing me to return until I can feel safe again in the moon’s light.
Safety, like happiness, is a fleeting fall of rain; I know that it exists, enough to keep moving forward in search of it, but the canyons in between are hard to navigate without the proper gear. Things like strength, courage, and motivation are in short supply. I’ve been using them instinctively, not keeping track of my inventory, and the problem I’m finding is having no idea where I am on my map. These resources haven’t only been a part of my own survival, but I’ve been foolish enough to share them along the way.
Perhaps I’ve given away too much.Somehow I have fallen down onto a ledge, and I don’t know how to climb back from it. There is further to fall, which isn’t abating my fear of heights any. What’s happened is that I let myself be pushed here. I have let people push me further and further until my confidence gave way like sliding rocks. Now I’m stranded and either too blind to see the hands reaching out to me or delusional enough to believe they exist.
We’re wandering now, and I’m not supposed to do that. I’m supposed to stay focused, eye on the mountain peak, and all that crap. They say to name my emotions, like bread crumbs to leave behind as proof that I made a journey.How can I leave no footprint behind me when I need proof that I have lived?
The better question is who am I proving myself to?
The nearest star is 4.5 light years away. That’s 26 trillion miles. There are more galaxies in the universe than there are grains of sand on the earth.
That’s pretty big.
And we are very small.
This isn’t what I set about writing today. I wanted to exorcise my anger, to let the wind take it from me, but when I began to scribble one word after another, it wasn’t the footprint I wanted to leave behind today. And I do want to prove to myself that I have lived, because this day will become forgotten like all of the others. It will remain, however, a lost letter unless I figure out how to rescue myself from this ledge.What I think is so intimidating about climbing mountains is that we’re only supposed to find satisfaction when we reach the top, when we stand with arms outstretched to a blue sky and proclaim victory.
I don’t know why I have to take on every day as if it were a mountain.This cliff, too, is like home to me. It’s what I know. Today I am tired, but tomorrow perhaps I will take hold of my fear and sadness and anger and I will tie them together with knots of strength, courage and motivation.
If I let it be known that I was here, then maybe the next person who tumbles onto the same ledge will know they weren’t the only one who fell along the way.
We didn’t even get to Mount Katahdin.
Another mountain, Bill? How many do you need to see?
© September 2, 2015
Quotes: A Walk In the Woods / Bill Bryce
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