The wonderful thing about Google photos is that it sends you reminders of where you were x years ago and what you were doing. Well, sometimes it’s wonderful; other times, painful.
Today it reminded me of where I was five years ago. I was camping, alone, down in Florida, under another full moon. I hiked a wilderness trail after my night under the stars, and night frisbee players 😊. Back then I was training for hiking the Appalachian trail regularly. Well, as much as you can, in flat Florida, lol. There are photos of all of my gear, the interesting things I saw in the swampy woods, my camp, the steak on the grill, and water. Woods and water, my two recurring themes. I remember my boss calling me while I was hiking, and a snake crossing my path while talking, and he being surprised that I related it so calmly and with no screaming. I reminded him that I grew up in Florida, wild Florida, where snakes were everywhere, including in our houses, our cars, even our showers, at times. I can still recall the time I discovered I was sharing the shower with a pygmy rattler, and streaking across the living room in the altogether in a house full of choir members. Snakes overcome propriety when you’re a scared little girl.
Again, this week, under another full moon, I am out camping alone. But those five years seem to be a lifetime ago. The AT hike dreams put aside. The little house in the woods dream put aside. The taking in of a little, troubled boy changed all of that. I took him camping and hiking. Taught him how to ride a bike and a scooter. Watched him struggle with a splitting maul trying to split wood as I did. Taught him plants, animals, birdsong and healing herbs. Went digging through old junk piles in the woods behind our house to find old, hidden treasures. Built a snowman and traced animal tracks on fresh fallen snow. Lay in a hammock and watched meteors. Toured Savannah, and took him on his first plane ride. And yet, I couldn’t keep him. The other things that happened overwrote all of these joys and discoveries. I simply didn’t have the skills needed, nor services available, to heal him. And it was breaking me.
This week he was removed from his mother’s home. He will most likely remain in special care until adulthood, when our system will turn him out into the streets. My heart broke when I took him in. My guilt nearly overwhelmed me when I took him back. And this week, my heart broke again. He is the child I delivered and cut the cord for, two days after I found out my husband was dead; I held him warm and sticky at birth. And now, at ten, his life is already so screwed up, you forget you’re dealing with a child.
I had never known depression until widowhood. I didn’t even recognize what it was. I slowly, with the help of friends, worked my way out of that, moment by moment, thought choice by thought choice. And while my disposition has always been a bouyant one, maybe ebullient (I’ve been called Pollyanna and floating, lol) these last ten years that has been a choice made nearly daily, to see beauty and find joy, no matter the circumstance of the day. The night after I first received news of what was going on, I saw a fox lightly stepping across the sands in the moonlight. Last night, I stood and watched the full Wolf Moon rise in luminous beauty. Today, I watched a hummingbird flit about as I work on documentation for court. I don’t know what he was looking for, as nothing is blooming here. But it made me smile.
Life is rather like hiking in elevation. You will go up and see amazing things, but there is always a descent. And then you begin up again. Sometimes it’s flat for a while before you get to ascend once more. Keep your footing at all times. If you’re hiking alone, always give someone your coordinates as your touchstone in case you falter or get lost, so someone knows how to find you.
We control but one thing; our choice of reaction to things. That is the only true power we have. The power of our thoughts. Today, I choose beauty over ugliness, and release the things I cannot control. I must, lest I drown.
Choose your thoughts and actions. Let go of what is not under your control. Seek beauty and remember to laugh, even though it is hard. Reach out and hold up others when you can, as giving lets you forget yourself for a while.
~SE, standing in for a real sage today on the road
“It’s so hard to forget pain, but it’s even harder to remember sweetness. We have no scar to show for happiness. We learn so little from peace.” – Chuck Palahniuk