This week has been a struggle, at least where any kind of writing is concerned. Writer’s block has ruled the day. Actually, all the days. And it wasn’t for a lack of possible topics. Kathryne and I were spending a week in Sedona, Arizona so there was all the “preparation to leave” material. Then the shooting in Thousand Oaks, California took place, claiming twelve lives, followed by the horrific wildfires that have claimed far more. Those events offered the opportunity to discuss hope or the unexpected brevity of life . . . but it was all so depressing and I felt like life had been depressing enough lately. It didn’t need any help from me.
Then Kathryne and I went hiking.
She let me choose the trail and I took one labeled Easy/Long. It was the trail known as the West Fork which was allegedly 3.3 miles in . . . meaning it’s also 3.3 miles out. There were a few creek crossings (as in stepping from rock to rock while hoping the only thing that gets wet is your shoes)—actually, 15 in all . . . one way. But it sounded intriguing, so off we went.
The landscape was absolutely beautiful . . . and totally unmarked other than the occasional arrow that indicated the continuation of the trail, meaning we had no idea how far in we were as we hiked. Please don’t suggest that we should have consulted our Health app on our phones. We had no service at any point, so it could only tell us afterwards what we had done (which, by the way, appears to have been walking 8.9 miles in 22, 144 steps and climbing the equivalent of 19 flights of stairs).
The longer we hiked, the more we wondered how much farther it was to the end of the trail—and would we even know it if/when we arrived? I started asking the folks we met if they had made it to the end. It wasn’t that we were tired at that point, but for every step we took in we had to take another step back out. There would come a point when the dark of night would catch us and the wild things would appear. But we didn’t want to turn back if we were almost there.
The first guy said no (like I was an idiot), the full hike is 14 miles long . . . that was not helpful. The next folks were far more informative, telling us we only had a mile or so to go. But approximately another 20 minutes in, a nice English couple told us we were only about 1.1 miles away.
We had to walk single file due to the narrowness of some parts of the trail, and as we were trudging through what proved to be the last mile or so of the hike, I heard an “Oh. Wow,” from behind me. I turned to find my little one standing in the middle of the path, her face turned upwards in absolute awe. Following her gaze, I saw one of the most magnificent examples of Nature’s beauty that I believe I have ever been privileged to behold. And as we both stood there in wonder, she observed, “We were so focused on our destination, we forgot to look up.”
And that, my friends, is my message to you today. There will always be obstacles that will interfere and tragedies that will impact our lives. But we can’t allow ourselves to get bogged down in the chaos that so often swirls around us—or within. Life is far too short and far too precious to lose sight of what’s important. So as you travel through it please, don’t get so focused on your destination that you forget to enjoy the journey.
Don’t forget to look up.