There was a hike that took place on the side of a mountain a few years back. I was away from most of the world. The trail was in the woods and the air was hot. The sun was in its early stages and the sunlight was filtering through the leaves in the tall trees. My backpack was packed too heavy. My body was out of shape to say the least. All I kept thinking was “How much farther do we have to go?” on a walk that seemed endlessly uphill.
I had no idea what was about to happen. I was unaware of the conversation that was about to take place. In fact, I was invited on this hike, which I thought was going to be fun —and it was fun, at first. The hike was fun when I was planning it. The hike was fun when I was in my car and on my way over with a buddy to the trails near Panther Mountain. The idea was fun while I was at the bottom of a mountain. And maybe it was fun when I entered the woods and began the trail —
But then the climb started. Then I lost my breath. Then I realized how completely out of shape I was; and I can remember thinking to myself, this is how someone dies. This is not good. Suddenly, I began to rethink the meal I had the night before, which of course, was absolutely huge. My weight was the heaviest ever. My direction in life was directionless, joyless, and somewhat mediocre and pointless. I submitted to the fact that what I was doing was all I’d ever do. There was no excitement about my job nor was there any zest for anything in particular— except for eating, of course. I enjoyed eating.
I would not say that I was an over-eater, per-se, but I will say that my relationship with food was based on habit and comfort and sometimes boredom and oftentimes pride.
Meanwhile, this hike that took place was nothing so extraordinary. There was nothing so absolutely difficult about the trails or the inclines and the elevations. It was not easy by any means but for the first time in my life, I noticed the unfortunate truth about my physical health. I was wheezing. I couldn’t breathe. Sweat was pouring from my body and all I kept wondering was, “How much farther do we have to go?”
By the time we found our first resting point, we were a little more than midway to the first scenic overlook. And keep in mind, I am more of a city boy. My last time that I spent living in the country was during my youth. I was on a farm and even then, this city boy was no country boy. Not by any means.
I liked the scenery. I liked the distance from man and man made things. I liked the quietness about the country and the reduction of technology. There were no hustling pedestrians like the ones on the avenues in the city. There were no cabbies or taxis, looking to swerve through the streets and there were no people with sob stories or holding signs that said, “Help me, I’m homeless.”
I enjoyed the separation from man and man made things and I appreciated the scenery. But with all my heart and with all I had, all I wondered was, “How much farther do we have to go.”
I was asked a question on this hike. The question was simple. It was nothing too tricky. It was just a question. The question was where do you see yourself in three years?” and to be honest, as simple as this question is; the fact is that I had no answer—least of all an inspirational one. There was no motivation, no sense of urgency to complete something or build or create. I supposed I would just be more of the same. I supposed I would be working somewhere in some union job, working with the same people and doing the same things. I figured I would be this for the rest of my life—and then I was asked, “Well, is that what you want for yourself?”
Is this who you want to be?
Where do you want to go?
What do you want to see?
At that point in my life, I had never felt a pride of ownership for anything. I was never so proud or acknowledged anything about me or what I’ve done or accomplished. And worse, I had no vision for my future. I had no sight set on anything. There was no passion whatsoever, and yet, I never noticed how unenthusiastic I was about me, myself or my life as it was. How terribly sad. No rush or urges to be crazy or wild or mad to live. What kind of life is this?
If I were to ask you, “What are you most proud of?”
What would you say?
What is your biggest victory?
What was your proudest moment in your life?
Was it a time with a cap and gown and a graduation that seemed to take forever?
But ah, finally. You made it.
Was it a job? Was it walking into a room with your name on the door? And you saw this and thought to yourself, “Finally, I’m somebody!”
See, at the time; there wasn’t anything so terrific about my inventions. I didn’t have a long list of proud achievements or successes. I had what I had but there was no real sense of ownership. All I had was submissive resignation to my life; as if to say, “This is as good as it will ever be.”
I never wanted to feel so pointless again. I never wanted to feel like a sheep or like someone who simply moved with the tide, like a small piece of ineffective nothingness, simply drifting in the tides of life and washed out to sea in the swarm of millions of meaningless faces who do meaningless things and live meaningless lives.
What have I done?
What have I created?
Have I invented anything?
What have I contributed to this world?
Since then, my relationship with food has become completely different. I lost weight and gained some back, but I am not where I was nor will I ever be again. Since then, I have acquired several different certifications in the mental health field — and I’m working on gaining some more. Since then, I changed my viewing of the world and the way I see myself.
So, where do I see myself in three years?
It’s not here. It’s not what you see.
And I might not see this either. At least, not yet. But I know that if I take the chances and if I do the work, I can build and create anything. I just have to decide to do it.
I don’t know what kind of writer I’ll be. I don’t know what kind of man I’ll be either. I just know that I’m working on improving my life, one day at a time. I went from pointless to purposeful. I suppose my biggest fear is that when the time comes, I won’t be able to pull off my trick. Until then, I will keep working at it. I keep rehearsing. I keep training and someday, the curtain will rise and if it’s in the cards for me, then it’s in the cards for me. So long as I’m not submissive or sheep-like, I know that I will live to the best of my ability.
By the way, I’ve done great things in the last few years. I’ve met some great people. I suppose I’m afraid sometimes –of feeling the way I used to feel.
My guess is everyone is afraid of something.
We all have fears.
Mine is being unremarkable.
I just can’t have that.
Not on my watch.