Life is crazy…too many emotions and thoughts swirling in my brain that I can’t see straight. But it’s 6:34 am and I must walk to work. Another long day…
“Left or Right?” I say, realizing it sounds like it will define my life.
“I don’t know you choose…” Peter says like its just another pathway in another direction.
Standing there wide-eyed, energized, and immovable at the top of the mountain trail after a long hard strenuous hike, I look out into the vast valley and I’m surprised at how far we have come; we did start today at six o’clock in the morning and it was now closer to ten. This is our last day of our journey. Even though I was dying because of the lack of coffee, I felt more alive today in the wilderness than I had these last few months in the city.
Peter on the other hand was a mindless zombie; he stood behind me, but only barely. If someone were to come bump into him he would probably topple over and roll down the hill. His eyes were closed at every point we weren’t moving; he would occasionally mumble something under his breath, usually about coffee; he looked like a lonesome tree, who just wanted to be left alone until Spring.
This trip wasn’t either of our ideas; our friends set it for us as a way to work on our problems. “We don’t have problems!” I remember saying this in unison once six months ago, to our loving and caring friends. “We just like to work, and it works for us.”
We have been married for almost two years; I wouldn’t say it has been easy, but it hasn’t been so awful we needed to go on a hiking trip to figure ourselves out. But still we went on this trip, just so that our friends would leave us alone.
The first couple days were terrible; we both hiked through bushes, branches, dirt, dust, muck. With every step we hated being here and we just wanted to run back home; but, if we did that then we would never hear then end of it.
Besides, I am now happy we did come on this trip. I have discovered something about myself, I love hiking. I love being away from the city; I love hearing the wind intertwine with its surrounds creating the wilderness’ song. Standing on top of this mountain I can see anything and everything. The journey upwards was hard, bitter, long, but the fact that we are standing here shows me, at least, that we can survive anything.
“Peter…” I say to the sky. No response. “Peter!” I turn and there he is sitting on a rock sleeping soundly. “Oh, Peter…” smiling to myself, because trying to arose him is pointless, once he is dreaming he won’t wake up.
Instead, I put my pack down and sit down beside him; I can hear his breathing. We haven’t been this close in months. I realize why our friends said we had problems; our jobs became our loves. I think I saw him once this last week, and until this moment I hadn’t thought anything of it. His breathing hum added a soft melody to the wilderness song; changing it into a lullaby. I rested my head upon his knee and dream my own dreams, but they all consisted of him.
I awoke to the rubbing of my head. I opened my eyes and the sky was a soft orange with the clouds still soaring through the sky. I lift my head up and there sits Peter staring off into the sky. The colors dance across his face making him more handsome than ever.
“Hey,” I say quiet enough to not spoil the moment.
“Hey,” he says with a smile, still looking off into the distance.
The wind danced, the birds sang, and my heart fluttered…
“Shouldn’t we be going?” Peter asked as his body spread stretching out his spine; with every moment some bone or joint popped or cracked.
He must be a bit sore from sleeping hunched over on the rock. I didn’t want to move from this spot, but he was right. “Yeah, we should.” I started to move and he jumped up and helped me rise. His hand on mine, made me feel like a teenager again.
“So, Left or Right,” Peter said now standing tall, refreshed, and strong.
My heart was beating so fast, I now remember this feeling; the feeling of happiness from another person. I love him…I haven’t thought this in a long time. Remembering this feeling made my body surge to life, but also fall into the place beside him. I realized I had been to quiet and hadn’t given him an answer. “I…” I start as I turn towards him.
His eyes are staring into mine; his features calm and loving. I haven’t seen him like this since our wedding day. “I don’t know. You choose. I’ll go where ever you go” only squeaky voice came out; I’m surprised anything came out of my mouth at all. His stare left me speechless.
“Okay then,” Peter said looking both ways, “Let’s go this way.”
Our bodies turned together, and we moved as one. We are following the Right path, hopefully to a different branch of our lives.
…But also, hopefully, this path leads us to a nice, warm Cup of Joe…
Eyes sparkling with interest as millions of images dash across the screen. Those eyes catching each one as it dances away; not wanting to miss a single image. The eyes filled with excitement and wonder, but also a sense of sadness because the longing for these images will only ever be a dream.
“Mama. What’s that?” my beautiful little girl points at a image of a waterfall. A rare nature scene, one that I have not seen for many years.
“It’s called a waterfall, honey. Great amounts of water cascades over a hill of rock, spilling down over into a stream.” At least that’s what I remember at the age of six when my father told me.
“Have you ever seen one? Not on a screen. Were you able to touch it?” her magical eyes dancing with excitement knowing that this beautiful image is not just a fantasy.
“Yes, Honey. I saw it when I was a little bit younger than you. I stuck my hand into the downpour and it almost knocked me over. The water was warm and lite. It shimmered like the stars. I desperately wanted to dive into the water and submerge my being, so that I could listen to the noises underwater.” Remembering lost memories always have bitter sweet taste.
“Mama, in the future I will venture out into the world and find this beautiful snippet of nature!” she bounces up, taking up her normal explorer stance, and yells it into the air.
“Hush dear.” Checking around, hoping they did not hear her. “You remember the rules, we can look but we must be quiet about it.”
“Right. Sorry Mama.” She cuddle up beside my knee; then she continued to watch the images dance across the screen.
These small moments are what keep me going. These moments help me forget where we are and how our life has changed.
…12 years later…
A gush of wind stirs the dirt and grime into my mouth, “Eww, tastes like metal and dust.” I pull the bandanna up over my mouth again, because I will take not breathing before disgusting tastes. Sweat and mud mix over my skin; I probably look wild. Which is alright with me, I can’t be bothered.
The forest has become denser and the trees are closer than ever, “I’m close!” My pace picks up a bit. My steps are bigger. My heart is pounding…there…
It’s more beautiful than I ever imagined. It shines like crystals; continuously falling into a vast stream. I can barely see the top of the fall; I see the water spilling over the top, it seems to be spilling out of the heavens. The space around the waterfall is lush and green, small animals, bugs, and birds dashing over, in, and around the glistening water.
Standing in all the beauty I remember why…Setting my back-pack down I pull out the small screen which gave me dreams and wonders as a child. The now broken device, but it was stuck on the waterfall. “Mama…”
She has been gone nearly six years. She died in that place; she never got to explore the land of home. She gave me everything as a child. Love. Hopes. Dreams. Life. I am forever indebted to her. We lived in a small tent, on dirt ground, surrounded by hills of dirt. When she died I made it my mission to venture to the South, where all the images were from. Mama always talked about how she wanted to come back home and see the land that made her.
She is here; her love lives forever in my heart and soul. No matter where I journey she will relive all of it again with me.
I walk towards the waterfall, and just like her, I stretch my hand out into the water. The power behind the gushing water is impressive. I continue to inch forward until I stand firm under the fall, drench by the water. I slowly sink down and lay submerged. Its peaceful, yet chaotic. Losing consciousness I explode to the surface! I lay there floating in the pool of shimmering water. This place is like life…there’s always something trying to hold you under, but unless you dream and pursue what you want you will stay submerged. But if you fight back and live, like my mother, you will live fully and your dreams will never die.
I love you Mama!
Across the street in front of a store window you see a family gathered around a gleeful child. The child beams with excitement and wonder. The family is close nit and welcoming; you wish you could intertwine into their love because that is all you seek. Instead, you continue down the other side of the street; which seems clouded and musky with a hushed noise engulfing you up. No lights or laughter is along your walk. Only a gradual darkness on this lifeless street.
Years pass and again you walk along that lifeless street; however, this time you are next to your partner. You love them deeply and your walk now has a glow of happiness surrounding your essence. You walk hand in hand down the pavement path, but they stop suddenly causing you to run into their shoulder. Their eyes stare to the left, you follow their gaze to a beautiful human in front of that store. This new human radiates warmth and love. The person stands so tall and proud glancing at all the wonders in the store. Your partner stands there a second to long and you know your love is fake. Their heart is still searching, where as yours was complete and satisfied. Your partner pulls away from you and leaves you there on this side of the street. Without a word of goodbye your partner greets the radiant person as if its love at first sight. You stand there on the now dark path depressed to the core, “Why is life so unfair?” and you continue back down the lonely path and are submerged in the darkness.
Time passed and you have given up on life. You walk this hard paved path and you don’t care what crosses you. Nothing surprises you anymore; you are just not one of the fortunate souls in life. This side of the street has grown more unwelcoming. You can only see a footstep space in front of you. You’ve given up trying to lead a fake life knowing that somehow it will be taken from you. You continue stumbling toward the end of the block to the full submission of darkness; this time not stopping to look over at the side of the street you can never be a part of. You journey on, eyes cast downward, wanting to stop all movement and be done. Darkness…
Life isn’t perfect but its not in total gloom either. You still have no one, but you walk now head high and curious about what will come your way. You are not expecting much from day to day life, but you are optimistic that one day might be better than another. The side of the street you walk on is now slightly brighter. You can walk freely without fearing of tripping over an obstacle. You stop in the spot that has many a day changed your fate. You turn and look towards the side of wonder. In front the store stands a couple and child. The child beams with excitement and the couple are radiant in the light. The family exudes love and you cave and wish that for yourself. You forget your previous mindset and dream of a better life you desire. You turn and continue down the hard pavement path pondering on how you can have what they have.
“Why bother, nothing ever happens for me,” a new day has come and you walk head hanging low. Tears pour down your face. You pour your heart into person after person and they never love you back. You falter every step as you continue down this path. “No one will love me,” and you walk into the shady darkness…
“Life…” you say as you step onto the ground which hasn’t changed. “It’s my own life and I can do with it as I see fit.” You decide that moment on you don’t need anyone, instead just live your life for you. If things happen they happen, but if they don’t you at least love yourself. Every life has love; others might have more, but all lives have love. Walking along the path you follow everyday you pause in the space…You turn your body to align with the spot in front of the window. No people are standing there that spot is vacant.There are lights shimmering and couples and children giggling. “Is this real?”
Standing there alone searching across the street to a bright vibrant side, you step towards it. Your foot falls onto the asphalt ground. It’s firm and will hold you. You continue each step towards a brighter life uncertain if it will be striped away from you. Walking across the street you think back over your life. How you could have changed you life if you had been brave enough to live it alone. Realizing, you had been alone all these years, and you could have been living them alone in a world of light and laughter. Last step…
You are here. The window of dreams and light. You peer inside and you see what all had seen before you. SNAP! A light engulfs you. As your vision comes back, you see your own image in front of you. You are a small human standing wide eyed and dreamily into this gleaming world. You look radiant against the dark shadows behind you. The picture is proof that you live. Life is about living it. You live in the bright and darkness of the world. To say you only live in the bright happy one is fake, and to say you are doomed to live in the darkened one forever is fake. Life is living between the two. Constantly battling and struggling to stay in the middle.
Looking up and down this brightened street, everyone is too happy, faking their emotions. You don’t feel comfortable here, because this is not life either. You turn back towards the darkened side. You walk to the center of the asphalt road…This is life; where the shadows mix with the light creating the perfect balance. A path suited for living.
As life goes on, you stumble and falter between the happy and sad sides of life, but you always stop, gather yourself up, and return to the center.
Live life. Live it for yourself. Take the battles on. Follow the path designed for you. Love.