In our lives as with in every day, there are ups and downs. yesterday was one of those great downs. We have been short handed at work lately, so unfortunately my days off have become normal work days. Being two men short has been very stressful and taxing. I was looking forward to this weekend and at the end of my work day, south it had already begun. My afternoon plans had fallen through and I figured what better way to clear my head then to go hiking. When I arrived home, I quickly packed my gear and set out to Fair Hill for a long hot hike. Driving to the closest Wawa for water I only thought of the trail. Which route to take, what trails to loop together for mileage, I only thought of my afternoon and nothing more. This was to be the upward movement in the day for me. That is until I went to pull out of the parking lot and my car died, dead, no starting, turning over, nothing. In that moment I was still calm and feeling up. I could fix this, not a worry, it had stalled before and I’d gotten it running again. Tried as I might nothing could bring it back to life. There was no life, no pulse, my car had drawn its last breath.
As I relentlessly crawled underneath checking this and that, I noticed the impending black clouds rolling in. The clouds so dark and ominous moved in a steady slow motion, rolling toward me, like a freight train moving along the tracks. The rain suspended underneath poured on the country side looking more like a wall of water than rain. These dark rain soaked whipping winds of a storm could not have come at a more cliche of a time. Stuck underneath the car the storm rolled over drenching me in seconds. I spent the better part of the next two hours in the rain trying to get my car to start. My morale had tanked, just plummeted to the ground. Paul arrived and we tried for a little while longer with no such luck. Beaten, worn down, soaked, covered in grease and grime we headed to his house for the night. The whole car ride home I was filled with despair, anger and loss.
It’s funny how just one small thing can topple all you’ve worked hard to achieve. In this instant I felt all the familiar pains of my divorce at once. The potential loss of my job, the loss of a vehicle, starting all over again. Everything I had worked hard to achieve in the past six months was in jeopardy. I could not bear that loss again. I wanted to quit, to walk away, how could I recover? How could I get back on my feet if I kept getting knocked flat to the ground? Overwhelmed was the only word to describe my emotional state. This could be the second time in the past six months I would be left with no way to go but up. I was beaten and I just wanted to escape. Escape I did, Paul and I just goofed off for the night doing anything to not think any more, to escape. As with last night, a storm rolled in winds whipping, pouring rain as my car died, the same could be said for my emotional state. Each akin to the other, the storm raged within and around me literally.
Today started off with no hope, no positive outlook, just apprehension and tension. I tried to find a solution and could not. If my car wouldn’t start today id was going to be back to square one. We headed out to my car and hopefully it was still there. John had picked me up and the only thing we did was joke. The air was lighter, laughing helped ease my tensions as we drove on. I had just one hope, I only hoped that my car was still there. It starting was the furthest from my mind. I wasn’t able to see the car as we approached, I stared intently through the high grass trying to catch a glimpse of my vehicle. Then it was there, thank God, thank the stars, I let out a sigh of relief. John and I worked for a few minutes trying this and that. His mechanical skills are far superior to mine and he was able to diagnose the issue. A few short minutes later we had it running and I was on my way. I text-ed Heather and shared my weekend. I reached out after this roller coaster of a weekend. As I told her the days events she said to me, “Get it together! You’re alive! Be grateful for what you have. Go out and take a walk and enjoy the beautifulness.”
In looking back today on this weekend I have learned something very valuable. There will be times on the trail when my gear will fail, I will be hurt, exhausted or what have you. I will be beaten and broken down. Like every storm, matters in my life, our lives, it does exactly what a storm does. It crashes through, tearing us up, raining down despair, worry and doubt. But that is the thing about storms, no matter how rough and bleak they may be they eventually pass. The dark looming clouds blow away, the ground dries and the sun shines. Heathers simple words shown as bright as the mid day sun. Today, Sunday was gorgeous, breathtakingly beautiful a far cry from yesterday. I took a walk today with new eyes and a clear head. I spent the afternoon reflecting on this lesson, this too shall pass.