Potential Text for a Sketchbook Project. Or something else entirely. Read, comment, enjoy. <3 Bex
At twenty eight my mother had four children, a husband in the Navy, and a house she wasn’t expecting to live in for the next thirty four years. My life took a very different path. Even though we think alike and share similarly simple life goals, my life at twenty eight is very different from hers at twenty eight. She in Suburbia with a station wagon; I in the country, childless, my only transportation my own two feet. (What is it about the youngest child that she always seems to insist on taking a very different route from her family?) I have no spouse, no steady work, no car, no children of my own, and no desire for any of the above.
No advice, neither, for others searching for their path. Because, just like when hiking, I walked right off mine and don’t plan to stop bushwhacking until I find my place beside the shimmering sea. I’m so deep in the wood now I couldn’t find a path if I tried; I’ve got to just keep on walking until I can walk no more.
I love my life, surrounded by white pine, white, black, and yellow birch, mountain laurel, and musclewood; eastern hemlock, oaks, maple trees, shagbark hickory, apple, spruce, and fir. I like stepping between the skunk cabbage, across the moss covered rocks that litter the streams I come across. There are frogs, insects, and salamanders hiding underfoot; red headed woodpeckers, red-tailed hawks, tufted titmice, and chickadees overhead; while rabbits, deer, coyote, squirrels, and foxes share the middle spaces.
Sometimes there are snakes and other creatures that seem a whole lot scarier than they actually are. Eventually, though, you live amongst the unfamiliar long enough you come to understand them and how to coexist in apprehensive peace. But the sunlight filters through the glossy green leaves, their ancestors crunching beneath my feet as dirt and humus cake the hardened callouses of my soles.
And I know there is going to come a time I stumble upon a path so attractive I won’t be able to turn my feet from it and it will lead me through well lit floral archways and into deep, dark, ominous passages but eventually will end at the wide, vast, ocean. Until then I am barefoot in the woods, roasting hickory nuts over open flames and drinking water from the streams.
You, my friend, like so many before, are standing at a crossways, the signposts pointing in all directions, complete with compelling reasons why you should take each one. And the only way you know you can’t go is back. As to which trail you ought to take, I could not say.
My advice will be inadequate from my position so deep in the woods I can only tell direction by the angle of the sun, but here’s what I’ve got to say to you:
- Don’t forget to laugh; this is very important, laugh everyday: it’ll keep you sane.
- Do what brings you joy. Know the things that make you happy and make time for these.
- 90% of the time if it feels wrong it probably is. The other 10% of the time it’ll feel wrong because it’s something new and unfamiliar. If that’s the case, it might be worth it to push through the discomfort if for not other reason than growth and experience.
- Sometimes up is down; but if you keep going the world will righten itself again.
- Feel free to make mistakes just so long as you learn from them and live without regrets; because while life is short, it doesn’t move as fast as a 200 page novel or a two hour romantic comedy.
- “This above all: to thine ownself be true”. If it doesn’t feel like you, if you don’t feel like you, it might be time to leave the path behind altogether.
The land is meant to be explored. So much is missed by sitting in one spot, or worse, holed up indoors. Get out there, my friend, and explore the woods. The journey might bring you to a desert, or the mountains, or the snow. Wherever you’ll end up, you’ll end up exactly where you are meant to go. We won’t follow the same paths as our mothers, or even as each other, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. We’d never be happy on someone else’s path and we shouldn’t settle for one that isn’t us. I love you, friend, let me know where you end up.
Oh, p.s., also it’s important to remember the aquatic manatee is more vicious than the land manatee; but both should be avoided at all costs.