I can’t help but spend time in nature when I need time to think.
For some people, unwinding means taking to the gym to exercise and let some steam off, for others, it means opening a blank page in a notebook and writing continuously, as if tomorrow’s edge kept sliding away.
But today, I chose to walk.
I may have spent an hour or so out and about, and didn’t wander too far from home. But there was something about the slow, gentle pace of walking, step by step, that carried me, and massaged my thoughts to where I arrived at the conclusion of my state of doubts.
For one, I’m an adult and the future could not be anymore uncertain. I spend a lot of time in the future, envisioning myself behind different desks in a variety of environments. I ask myself, “could I really see myself in a city?” And then I ask myself, “could I see myself living in a rural town for the rest of my life?” HELL no.
I really don’t know where exactly I want to go, geographically that is, after college. It’s crazy to think that when we step foot outside every morning, we’re really only stepping into one small carved out segment of the world.
There’s still thousands, hundreds, millions of other segments, unlinked to our own that the world has holding in its trove of wonders for us.
Well, as if my future wasn’t already uncertain, my walk re-affirmed that.
I tried to stop thinking about where I’ll be next year, or even in the next ten. But questions kept knocking on my head and I kept answering the door.
There were moments during my walk that I asked myself : what do I want to do in ten years? What’s going to happen? Will I still want to be involved in journalism? What if I lose my love for that?
There are so many better ways I could have spent this walk other than contemplating my future, that’s for sure.
But, just when the universe saw that these thoughts of the future began to consume my mind, the universe brought three, or should I say four, individuals into my life.
I had just rounded the corner of the last street before mine. A man appeared from the corner.Not expecting anyone to appear so suddenly, I was startled.
He started talking to someone behind him. It was a pair of women and a golden retriever. The first thing I noticed was a missing front leg.
The two women and the gentleman introduced themselves immediately.
“Hi, I’m Ron,” the man said, and extended his arm.
“Hi, I’m Cathy, I think we’ve met before, and this is Marge,” Cathy said, nudging her mother.
I told them their dog was beautiful, and they informed me his name was Max.
“We just got back from UC Davis today,” Ron said.
“Yeah, the cancer started to grow back, so they’re going to have to do chemotherapy,” Cathy added.
I squatted down on the sidewalk to pet Max. The three looked down at me and smiled warmly with a look grandparents would give their grandchild. I felt like I was a part of something.
Marge, Cathy’s mother, said that she just moved to San Luis Obispo from Ventura because she needs to be in a place with assisted living now that her husband passed away.
“We were married for 66 years and when he died, I couldn’t live alone anymore,” she told me. Her husband passed away at 90 years old.
We stood and chatted as I pet Max. We talked about my background as a college student and as a California and (previously) Connecticut resident.
But when I left this conversation, I felt the power of humankind fill my lungs like a strong wind and then suddenly, two tears fell with grace to the sidewalk below.
Leaving the conversation saddened me.
I thought, how could these people be so happy, so joyful in a time when several things, their dog’s recent amputation and Marge’s husband’s death, have broken them?
And that’s when it hit me.
These instances that happened to this family did not break them.
In fact, this family is anything but broken: Marge is now living with her daughter, and Max is getting treatment for his cancer. Things aren’t ideal right now, but the family is making it work. It is carrying on with a smile. And they’re as happy as a dog owner could be taking its dog for a walk on a perfect summer evening.
And so what I learned this evening is this—
Life is like looking through a looking glass. The glass is perfectly intact and only helps the viewer to see the picture at hand.
It’s only through the eyes of the onlooker to determine whether the glass through which she’s seeing life is broken or whole.