Tuesday, 13 December 2011

I took the road most travelled

I found myself a few months ago walking down a path in the woods. A path travelled by many people, some like myself out to see what was there, others, on the path heading for a particular destination. I had no destination. The path meandered through the trees and across small streams, where wildlife of all kinds flourished. I felt watched. As I walked I thought about how my life was going and where it was leading me. I thought about my family, my friends, my career, myself. I took in the peace of it all to reflect on middle age. I walked for miles.

I came across a crossroads on the trail, one more trodden than the other. As I stood there for a while trying to decide which to take, others walked on past, some took the trodden trail, others, without hesitation, took the overgrown and underused trail. I saw them in the distance ducking branches and jumping streams until they were out of my sight. I stood there again for a while, considering my family, friends and career, and I opted for the heavy trodden trail.

I began walking again, and again, watched my surroundings. I listened to the wildlife, but it became less prevalent. I watched for trees and streams, but they were fewer. I even watched for other hikers, but they seemed to walk on past me without a word. The trail became a highway. It opened up into two lanes where now bicycles began to pass me. Then, scooters, finally cars. The trail had become what I didn't want - a rat race. The trail had become my fears. The road now, as it was, led to places I was afraid of and had no desire to be. It led to stress, anxiety, and a sense of foreboding the likes I had never experienced. It led to all the places in my mind that were wrong. As cars whizzed past me I was afraid of where I was going, I suddenly wanted to go back. But I didn't know how. I couldn't turn around, the traffic was coming right at me. I couldn't keep up with it, I was still walking. I sat down and fell into panic and fear.

I sat there for a long time wondering what to do. All the time the sights and sounds of the rat race flew by me in both directions. I couldn't see my family, friends or career. I couldn't even see myself anymore. I had become anonymous to all but the fear. I sat there, watching the rat race fly by me, destroying what I knew. It destroyed my inner self, it clouded the sky, and even ran over the wildlife. All around me were things I didn't want to see. I needed to get out of this place. I needed to get back to the trail.

I looked around me and saw across the road a small opening in the fence with a clearing behind it. I had to run for it. I bolted across the oncoming rat race and jumped the fence, and fell. It seemed like I fell a hundred feet, but it was only a fraction of that. I fell into the brush, listening to the rat race whiz by me overhead. I was off the road, but now in my own fog. Now I was in the trees with no path. Again, the panic gripped me, the fear grew inside me, and I couldn't see my family or friends. I had to keep moving - I had to find the small path, the one I should have taken the first time. But I had no idea where to look for it. As I moved farther from the rat race the sky began to clear and through the trees I picked out familiar shapes in the sky - trees and wildlife that I had seen before. I heard a stream, peaceful and tranquil. I headed for it.

I had to pick my was through the forest, making my own trail. I climbed over rocks and over swampy areas still saturated with rain. Ever closer I moved toward the sound of the stream but it seemed like it was so far off - it seemed like the closer I got to it the farther away it moved. I began to hear my family calling. I began to hear my friends calling. But I still couldn't see them. I walked for what seemed like months, through the trees and over bogs that held me back. Swampy land that made me find another path. Several times I fell down and cried because I couldn't shake the fear and anxiety. Several times I collapsed. But each time I knew I had to get up and keep moving. The stream was still there, in my head. It was in front of me, but I couldn't see it. I kept going.

Finally I came to the small trail, the one I had lost. Finally I had made it there. The trees were as picturesque as I had remembered them and the wildlife was all around me, and they all seemed like they were egging me in a certain direction. The direction that would lead me to my lost family and friends. I could hear them, but I could still not see them. Again, I panicked and and the anxiety caught hold of me. I sat down against a tree and stared up. I thought long and hard if this was the right path. Were there three? After all this progress, after all this falling down and getting back up again, was I still on the wrong path? How could that be when I could still hear the familiar stream, which was still so far distant. I knew they were there, I knew I had to find them.

I must keep going.


  1. we're here brother, we're here. I love you very much.

  2. All you have to do is reach for us. We are always here, never far from you. Even when your mind tells you otherwise.

  3. First, a big hug to you, Sweetie. You have made me cry again. You are a hero to me for speaking out this way. I'm glad you are finding your voice again and using it so positively. Thank you for helping me understand you and others who are living with this illness. Never give up your struggle. Love you.

  4. Strength to you on your journey.

    Know that others are also there, lost in the wilderness, even if you cannot see or hear them. Some of us have made it out, some are still struggling, but your journey is one you CAN complete.


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