I decided I needed to run away this weekend. I sometimes run away… mentally. I’m sure many of you do this too. When the thinking and the emotions and the feelings start climbing on top of each other to be the first in line to your psyche and you know you’re about to be a Bugs Bunny cartoon character when their head explodes. So, in order to avoid the inner explosion you put up the vacant sign… and you run away. It was like that for me the last week, only I needed to actually physically run away — so I did. I was facing a long weekend without my children and preparing to head back to work after a nice summer break and I needed my head to not explode — running away can sometimes be exactly what is needed.
So, I headed out to a familiar spot for camping and hiking and aloneness and, ultimately, the hope of enlightenment. I packed lightly and secured my askew ponytail and I was off. The area I visited is beautiful and familiar to me, with rock climbing and water falls and peace. I camped here before many times and hiked these trails with friends very often — but never alone. There was something that beckoned me to go alone, right then, alone. To seek the solace and answers to the questions that seemed to be burdening me as of late. I desire to be alone but need to be surrounded by friends, I like to remain silent but can’t stop myself from regurgitating all my thoughts and feelings, I shy away from human contact but can’t stop thinking about the hugs I’ve yet to feel. Enlightenment would surely be found out there, in nature, alone — surely.
It’s been unbearably hot in Tennessee this summer. The temperature has settled around 97* for weeks now — this weekend was no exception. I actually love hot weather. There is something about a good sweat that makes me feel alive. The local weatherman called for a slight chance of scattered showers in the evening, perfect… my first mistake. The scattered showers were actually better described as monstrous storms with thunder and lightning and rain… lots of cold, hard rain. I escaped to my nearby car on several occasions and actually calmed with the thumping of the rain on the roof. The next morning, I felt the weather had calmed enough to go on another hike, so I set out for a short 4 mile hike to a secluded lake and promises of lots of wildflowers… yes, another mistake.
About a mile into my journey, a light rain started to fall. It was pleasant, actually, as the air cooled off 20* almost instantly. I was shielded from the rain by the dense trees that I was walking through and hoped by the time I reached the lake, the rain would be gone. Along the way, I found an area that had been mowed, like an oasis. It was so strange to see this. In the middle of the mowed path was a small bridge placed over an even smaller hole. I decided this must be the place where my enlightenment would come — why else would there be such a peculiar spot out here on my journey? So I sat down and enjoyed a snack of Ritz crackers and water while the rain caressed my face… and I cleared my mind as I so often do now during my morning savasana and I waited. While I waited I saw a rabbit, fitting as I have felt a little like Alice lately — wandering aimlessly around in Wonderland. I heard birds and saw spiders and listened to footsteps that I didn’t care to recognize. I remembered I had my camera and took this picture so I would be able to look back on where my enlightenment finally found me.
Shortly after I took this picture, the gentle rains once again turned into a massive storm. The thunder that had so poetically stayed off in the distance was now clapping directly inside my eardrum. Lightning lit my path as dark clouds covered the sun. I’m sure this is the part, as an enlightened blogger, that I’m supposed to tell you how I achieved peace and calm and a steady breath through the storm. Instead I’ll tell you how I ran completely around the promised lake (that had all but dried up) and sprinted the remaining 2 miles to my awaiting car. I was cold and wet and scared and cursing the storm rather loudly and insulting the enlightenment that never came. No sappy story to tell, no enlightenment waiting to perfect my zen… except for maybe this —
We make our own way in this life — no one can help us. Our emotions, our feelings, our enlightenment must come from our own awareness. We can’t seek others to do this for us — they’ll just be drained and turn away in the end… and what a sad ending that is. So, I remain a solitary person who needs people around, I seek to be emotionally closed off yet my soul sings when you reach out to me, I continue to build the wall around my heart but beg you to chip away at it. The change and the enlightenment must be our own — my own. Soon, hopefully, I’ll stop feeling so fractured from the too often occurring missteps — soon, I won’t be so fractured from the fall.