perspective

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It was kind of funny…

I’d walked the same stretch of trail only 6 days before but it was completely unrecognizable. And not for the first time I wondered why… Was it because I was going in the opposite direction? Was it because the time of day was different? Was it because my pack was lighter on my back and my body was more comfortable with it after 6 days on the move? Was it because I had changed so drastically over that time that how I viewed the world was no longer the same? Was it, as is most likely, a combination of all of these factors?

Of course. Of course the trail would look different. Of course I had changed.

When I had walked it before, I had been heading South, climbing away from Tuolumne Meadows. Each step was a fight against gravity pushing against my heavy pack. Each step was working muscles that hadn’t been tested since the last backpacking trip. The terrain was headed towards thinning groves of trees and the barren expanse of the pass fourteen hundred feet above. The morning’s coolness soon gave way to the heat of a humid thunderstorm laden afternoon. The threat of the unknown, the potential obstacles, the hard fought miles, the aches, the pains, and all the other struggles of a multi-day trip lay ahead and weighed down every forward movement.

When I returned, I was trekking North, descending from Tuolumne Pass and returning to the shade and comfort of the ancient trees at the lower elevations. The morning cool had held sway over the stretch of trail above tree-line and then the afternoon’s warmth was kept at bay under the expansive canopy. My pack had been relieved of my share of the week’s meals. My muscles had hardened. My body had grown accustomed to the weight strapped across my hips and held securely to my frame over my shoulders. Gravity had become my friend. It helped my feet move forward and press down as each step went downhill from the last. I had survived the previous days, the aches, the pains, the struggles. All that was left was the final miles that would return me to the car and civilization.

Still, it was the same stretch of trail. The same trees. The same rocks. The same winding path. The same major landmarks. It should have looked familiar. Shouldn’t it? That’s where the source of confusion comes from. My mind was thrown off that it knew I’d walked those miles before but didn’t recognize them. It expected to and it riled at the disconnect, sending me warnings and demanding that I pay attention rather than relax and enjoy the beauty around me.

Because I’d felt that sensation before I was able to push it aside and still enjoy the final steps of my trip. It did make me wonder, however, how often we have similar perspective shifts in our day-to-day lives that cause us to worry. Those times we break from our routines, even only by a little bit, and our brains are thrown into overdrive… Driving familiar streets at a different time of day? Visiting a different neighborhood store than normal? Wearing a different style to a routine function?

What else? When have you felt a bit of that fight-or-flight response kick in when there was really no reason for it, when an almost routine, almost normal situation made you pause because it felt wrong, felt scary, felt funny?

I’m not really sure what the point of this post is. I was struck by the oddness of the situation on the trail and it made my mind wander a bit so now I’m sharing with you and maybe it will make your mind wander a bit too.

What do you see when you look around?

He sat on top of the world, dangling his legs over the edge, and surveyed the green lands far below that stretched to the horizon.  Though he felt no fear with his feet hung thousands of feet above the precipice, his pulse quickened all the same because his mind raced with the future possibilities the land represented.  He could lumber it.  He could till it.  He could graze it.  The healthy hue meant water and fertile soil and, with some willing hard work, a good life in the sun.  He laughed with delight, stretching his hands to the warming sun, while letting the air swirl around his kicking legs.

…..

He sat on top of a boulder, dangling his legs over the edge, and looked across the grass that stretched to the edge of the park.  Though he felt no fear with his feet mere inches above the ground, his pulse quickened all the same because his mind raced with the possibilities the park represented.  He could run it.  He could swing it.  He could slide it.  The lush hue meant healthy patches and soft soil and, with a spark of imagination, a good time in the sun.  He laughed with delight, stretching his hands to the warming sun, while letting the air swirl around his kicking legs.

…..

He stood next to a cornerstone, his tired legs bent at the knees, and looked across his property that stretched further than he could see.  Though he felt no fear with his feet solidly on the ground, his pulse quickened all the same with the memory of a good life given to the land.  He had worked it.  He had cared for it.  He had bled and sweat and cried into it.  The homestead was well run and self-sustaining, with a few key contributions here and there, and had grown beyond his control.  He laughed with delight, stretching his hands to the warming sun, while letting the air swirl around his aching legs.

it could still be his…

The phantom pain, his missing finger, faded to the background as he clung to the ledge.  The flares of heat washed over him as the lava boiled below, but even that he barely noticed.  He knew he was closer to death than he had been at any point on the quest, and he didn’t care.  Frodo had long ago accepted that his fate was tied to the ring.

The fingers from his good hand slipped as his weight and fatigue worked to free him from his life and pain.  The bed of flames waited to receive him.  They had already welcomed his ring brother, Smeagol.  Gollum’s fate had also been tied to the ring, while the creature may have been too far gone to realize it, Frodo knew.  Gandalf had known it too.

Unable to control himself, Frodo peered into the swirling mass of yellow and orange death and easily spotted the ring.  It called to him still.  He desperately wanted to answer that call, but he could hear Sam, faintly, calling for him, telling him to hold on.  His friend’s voice, his faithful friend, Sam The Brave, was too far away though.  It wasn’t powerful enough to lend any strength to Frodo’s tired mind and body.  His blood shot eyes, strained from the heat, the miles, the grief, watched the ring float on the surface of the lava.

It could still be his…

Sam’s voice was more urgent, more forceful, demanding attention, and Frodo could no longer ignore it.  He swung his eyes away from the ring and saw his companion reaching out for him.  Knowing it wouldn’t work he reached back with his broken hand.  There was no hope, though.  Death was his only option.

But, somehow, Sam hauled him from the edge, even as the ring slipped below the surface, destroyed, even as it had been created, in the fires of Mt. Doom.  Relief flooded through Frodo.  Relief and a great sadness.  How had he managed to escape his fate, to break the pull of the ring when Gollum hadn’t?  When Smeagol hadn’t?

He looked to Sam and knew the answer.  Where Smeagol had been cast out and forced to wander alone, cursed, Frodo had never lost the love and support of his friends.  He was sorry he hadn’t done more to befriend the creature.  As much as he had done, it hadn’t been enough.  If he had been nicer, if he had tried to understand more, if he had treated Gollum as an equal, perhaps Smeagol would have survived, in the end, too.

Tears coursed down the hobbits dirty cheeks.  The sweltering heat caused them to evaporate before they’d even reached the cave floor.  His grief could not disappear to easily.  It would stay with him for the rest of his days.

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So, yesterday, when I posted my slightly different perspective of the end of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Trent asked if I could write in a “little bit of sorrow for the poor chap?”

I said I could.

How’d I do?  And, what do you think?  Does Gollum deserve a bit of sorrow, or did he get what he deserved?

the days ahead

 photo city_zps7e697ac0.jpgCredit to: dmkdmkdmk

The sun broke free, finally.  The storm had raged unabated for weeks, scouring the city in lashing, biting, stinging sheets of rain.  The light forced itself through the thinning clouds to show that autumn had pounced while the city slept.  The gloom was an unwelcome reminder that darker and colder days were coming.  While the residents might shake off their slumber for a few more weeks, the long sleep of winter would be upon them before they were ready for it.  Few ventured out that afternoon because the depression of the changing seasons was too strong to shake.

…..

The sun slipped below the cloud layer to filter lazily through the quiet city streets.  After weeks of cleansing rain, the light had finally decided to peek through and see what the storm had accomplished.  The gutters and roads were free of their normal castoffs, and the buildings, having been scrubbed of their normal grime, sparkled in the half-glow.   The trees had started to turn, heralding the changing of the seasons, and while beautiful, the city slept on awhile longer.  The rain had lulled it to a peaceful slumber and not even the stunningly clear afternoon could draw them from their homes.  There would be plenty of time to enjoy fall and the approaching winter in the days ahead.

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I couldn’t decide which way to take this story, in response to this week’s picture writing prompt provided by moi, so I gave you a short snippet of both.  I can see both the beauty and the joy in change, as well as the hardships and struggles prominent here.  As, I’ve been in similar situations in my life and seen one or the other depending on what else was going on.  I’ve camped in snow and cursed the bitter cold.  I’ve camped in snow and been overcome by the beauty of the adventure.

So, what do you see in this picture?  The positive?  The negative?  What speaks to you the most?

Write it, link it, post it!

a letter from my son at six months old

Dear Daddy,

I’m not sure I’m going to call you daddy when I find my voice.  I may go with dad, or da, or pops, or father-o-mine, or daddy-o.  Daddy will work for now though.

I see that you and Mommy are doing your best to comfort me, play with me, and teach me.  I appreciate all of your efforts, that’s why you get as many smiles and giggles as you do.  I figure the learning thing will become a lot easier for all of us when I learn how to do that talking thing you and mom excel at.

I hear the kitties talking too, but their words seem different, and I hardly ever hear you and mom use the same ones.  Sometimes you do, but I get the feeling you do it just to be silly.  Yes, I can already tell that you are very silly.  I like that about you.

I’m sorry that I scream when you change my diapers.  I wish I could help you understand why I do that.  I wish I understood why I do that too.  I think it has something to do with being confined to my back and I don’t understand why no one else has to lay down to get dressed.  I just want to help.  Don’t worry, I’ll keep trying and we’ll figure it out eventually.  I do have to say, though, my diapers are much cooler than yours.

I can see that you worry about me, especially when I’m being extra fussy.  You are usually right that it’s just my gums hurting.  These teeth things are annoying.  I don’t understand them either.  I know they will be useful one day, but I don’t need them yet.  I appreciate your concern, and you don’t have to worry as much as you do.  I’ll be okay.

Thank you for walking me around and taking little steps with me.  Thank you for making funny faces and playing peek-a-boo.  Thank you for showing me the soccer ball and letting me chase it and you all around the play room.  Thank you for taking me on adventures with you: the beach, Maine, the beach again, camping, the beach.  I like the beach.  I know I’ll like it even more when I’m older.

My first six months have been very good, and I know a lot of that is because of what you and Mommy do for me every day.  I can’t wait to see what the next six months will be like.

I love you,

The Little Prince

PS – What’s a birthday party?  I think I’m really going to like it and that thing called “cake.”