Trail Day

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am always beyond thrilled to drive to the airport to visit an unknown destination. Airports make me happy, they are the magic portal that transports us to new places and new experiences.  Sometimes however, there are places worth discovering right in our backyard. The Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry TrailIMG_4001 http://backcountrytrail.com/  The bicycle trails in Orange Beach AL are some of the nicest and most charming trails I have ever come across, the Spanish Moss hangs thick overhead and while only a few hundred yards from civilization, there is a feeling of remote beauty.  Sunlight filters gently through the trees, casting a lacyIMG_3998 (1) pattern on the asphalt. A small slice of the old Florida, where the air is scented with gardenias and the splash in the pond is a gator that has soaked up the afternoon sun.

My favorite section of the trail goes over a wooden bridge, and then winds along a nature preserve thick and lush.  We all need a fix of nature, and escaping to the trails has become my favorite way of reconnecting with the outdoors.  A tiny bit of undisturbed woods that provide a welcome refuge from the abrasive sounds and sights that sometimes accompany a beach town filled with tourists.  There are walkers, joggers and cyclists that all enjoy the trail, I choose to ride my bicycle. It gives me a childlike pleasure to use a bicycle for transportation,  putting a basket on the front makes a trip to the grocery store seem more like an excursion and less a chore.

The names of the trails all make me smile, Alligator Marsh Trail,  Possum Trail and Rattlesnake Ridge.  While biking along I have spotted eagles, snakes, bunnies and an otter. To think that a little bit of wildlife has survived the development crazed area is a good sign, hope fully this area will be left alone to stay just as quiet and undisturbed as it is now.

 

A Suitcase

Packing a suitcase. The mere act of packing a suitcase implies optimism. Surely we will arrive at our destination safely and require the various items we deemed necessary for for our visit to a new place and another way of life for a precious while. Items of necessity jostle for room with items that tell our story. The practical shoes we hope will carry us to secluded hidden corners of a city, so we become less tourist and more explorer. The sparkly dress that everyday hangs in the back of the closet, a wistful reminder of Big Band music, Mojito’s and moonlight. The items that reveal our intrepid selves get to come out and have a carefully allotted place in our suitcases. Our suitcases also tell our stories, the battered corners and the scratch from the taxi in Singapore. The half torn off luggage tag with MIA, and the wobbly wheel that has survived hot tarmac and cold airplane holds below us as we fly through the air.

I smile and shake my head when I see  plastic wrapped status suitcases, carefully protected to look new, trip after trip. And even though I’m opposed to snap judgments about my fellow travelers, I feel there is a difference in philosophy. My suitcase has battle scars that I wouldn’t trade for new and shiny. New is wonderful, ripe with possibility, when it is new. I adore a new passport, the empty pages taunt me and speak to me. I imagine the stamps it will collect over the next decade and the soft worn feel in my hand it will acquire. It will be just right as it is about to expire. And then, the time will come for a new picture, a decade later, that will remind me that all the memories collected have added their texture and lines on me as well, not just my luggage, and I am grateful for every journey and every mark.

A love letter to the Rockies

The Rocky Mountains restored me in a way I thought only the ocean could. My trip out west coincided with a personal crisis, which if I had been at home, alone, would have devastated me. Instead, the magnificence of the mountains made me feel small and insignificant in the best way possible. To view their majesty from an altitude that has been earned, step by step, is satisfying beyond expectation. The small petty behaviors of flawed humans, and I include myself in that category, pale beside the timeless beauty that wishes to evoke the best within us.

Climbing slowly and placing each foot carefully as we step, is a great metaphor for life. The consequences of poor decisions are dispatched quickly and without remorse by the granite powers that be. Staying on the right path, the one that will ultimately take me to my destination, takes focus both in climbing as in life. To find ones purpose, ones “peak”, is a revelation. We all search for different things, love, recognition, accomplishments. All are reflections of our desire to be acknowledged for our uniqueness. While what we desire may be different, our desires share the common thread, a deep hope, that once we achieve our loftiest goals we will somehow be more ourselves than before. We imagine the “after” as if it will be a shinier better version of us. We dream of love as if the right partner will enhance who we are, and the world will see us through our lovers eyes with kindness and compassion. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all of humanity could see us through our lovers eyes? Our jokes would be funnier and our idiosyncrasies considered adorable

I beleive the magic in the journey is held in the hands of nature. For when we connect with the immovable, the steadfast and the solid we feel the love that will not fail or disappoint. My church is under a blue sky. I contemplate grand thoughts of eternity, and the ultimate source of love, while being reminded by the same sky how frail my small mortal container that I travel through life in. I am a spiritual being having a physical experience.

The beauty of the mountains is that it connects both, our bodies are reminded of this with aching muscles and burning lungs. Our spirit gets to rejoice at the peak only after our bodies have been tested and tried by physical discomfort and our commitment to staying on the right path.

How do we best combine our spiritual journey with our physical one? How to continuously strive to learn from our mistakes and evolve into the most loving and giving version of ourselves? Understanding that is is not external sources that validate us and bring us gratification, but rather sharing our journey with someone who sees in us not only what we are, but also what we aspire to be

I am open to change because I have been broken. The pieces of me have come apart and now I am putting them back together. The pieces are the same but how I fit them in a pattern will be different, must be different. To try and repeat the pattern of the unbroken, the whole, would be futile. My lines now are not straight but riddled with fractures. A new pattern will emerge. I can only hope that when sunlight makes its way through my fractured casing, the refracted light will be soft and as if through a prism new colors will emerge.