Room on the Road: Stormy Trails

Friends warned me that middle school goes fast. I’m not ready for high school but he is. I’m a little nervous. He’s not. My dad’s sudden health challenges bring me racing to the present and dangling in the past. And make me realize how quickly physical abilities can come to a screeching halt. I don’t even have clean underwear and we’re out of apples. Every crack and crevice of my day has seemed to fill up when I wasn’t looking. 

My head was spinning, which is why I’m impressed that I even found my way to my favorite trail.

Looking around I find comfort in the familiarity of the view, knowing that the seasons will change but at its core the trail remains the same. It will always be there for me.

My legs are stiff so I start out easy with a brisk walk. Fumbling around with my earbuds, debating on music or no music, I opt for tunes. With volume low enough to hear a gentle hello of a passerby, I remind myself to breathe, sink into my strides, and load my favorite playlist.

First up: Stevie Nicks, who always seems to know what is on my mind…   Oh, mirror in the sky, what is love? Can the child within my heart rise above? Can I sail through the changing ocean tides? Can I handle the seasons of my life?

The threat of rain has lured only a few of us onto the trail this morning. I contemplate what the others might be in search of. I know I’m looking for peace of mind. I feel like I’m stuck in one of those all-at-once moments, sandwiched between being a parent and a daughter. I have to breathe strength into this tired body of mine. Regroup, recharge. Remember, forget.

I take an extra loop around the lake before setting out on a longer path. One more loop. Just breathe. I definitely need a few extra steps this morning to loosen my stride and sift through my thoughts.  Forcing myself to be present: it’s a hard sell this morning. Be present. Be present. Be present.

A page out of Mother Nature’s book

Passing a favorite spot of mine, the rich greens and golds jump out against a grey sky like a page out of a pop-up book. Smooth blades of grass, jagged leaves, and bristly bushes. The harmony of so many textures and colors come together as new growth replaces the old. The view gives me insight to some deep seeded questions I’ve had lately. Everything has its place. Everything works together. Everything combined provides a bigger picture.

Aging parents, children going to high school, growing so quickly, life changes, crossroads, reality checks, now or never, struggling with letting go and holding on. My mind continues to race. One thing I trust is for the trail to bring me comfort.

Kicking up rocks, I scan across the skies, watching a storm coming in across the Front Range. So much beauty from afar. What a gift it can be to see a storm coming. I scurry to beat the rain. At the same time, I want to get caught in it, to have this storm stop me in my tracks. I’m ready, I can take it. 

A storm approaches, both beautiful and unpredictable

I see you. You’re not that scary. A woman with a big smile coming towards me shouts Isn’t this beautiful and points to the darkening skies. I laugh and agree: It sure is! 

Remnants of a quote—where I found it, I can’t even remember—ramble through my mind …leave people better than you found them. I give thanks for the woman’s smile and what appears to be her similar feelings about the storm rolling in.

My pace picks up. Changing my route, I head for the shore of the reservoir. Getting too close to the water, my feet start to sink into the sand. Running away from the water, I scramble to find a harder surface to support my steps. There is always stronger ground. You just have to move. 

I find a middle ground, halfway between the hard sand and the shoreline. I want my steps to feel challenging but safe. I want to feel it in my legs. I want my whole body to be engaged with every step forward.

I don’t just want it. I need it to be hard. Every step brings me closer to being present, my thoughts, he will be fine in high school, there is still time to make new memories, drifting away.

Catching my breath, I turn around and look at the storm coming in. I still hope that I will get caught in the rain so I can prove to myself again that I can withstand a little rough patch. It starts to drizzle and it makes me deliriously happy. Here it comes.

I reluctantly head back towards the parking lot. I notice a heart rock, a reminder that the trail will always bring me back to love. It will always hold me up, quiet my mind, and keep me moving forward.

Always back to love

Savoring the gifts of the trail, I get in my car when the rain starts to come. I roll my eyes at the dainty rain drops. That’s it? I have to laugh at myself; sometimes even the darkest storms aren’t what I anticipate.

14 responses to “Room on the Road: Stormy Trails

  1. I love this. I have been running through my angst and anxiety for 35 years, always to be met with understanding and enlightenment at the end. Thanks for sharing.

  2. My thoughts and feelings exactly. I find peace running on the trail and it cures my aching heart for the time being. With one a senior in high school, one far away st college and caring for my aging parents my heart is broken. Running is a constant that will always be there for me.

  3. “Sometimes even the darkest storms aren’t even what we anticipate.” Isn’t that the truth!! The key is to remember that the next time you feel a “storm” rolling in. My grandson graduated from 8th grade tonight. I’ll be back and forth between Minnesota and Colorado during his high school days. I’ve been present for every day up to this point. Being away from him brings all kinds of feelings, so I take this message to heart. Faith that all will be well.

  4. You are such a beautiful writer. I can imagine being there.
    High school went by in the blink of an eye. College went even faster. I just realized my son has been a college graduate for 4 years. Enjoy the journey.

  5. WOW, lump in my throat! So beautiful and full of feeling. So many changes this time of the year and yet we are luck y enough to have a space of time to let some of it go and be with our thoughts for as long as the run lasts. Thank you for this!

  6. Very well written piece. You will survive the high school years- and your son will be fine. I scan the dark skies now for messages from my dad who passed away two weeks ago. He was fond of running also, but the heart still gave out. Looking for those heart rocks. I hope you took yours home.

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