Blazing a Trail

I went for a walk this afternoon. After driving into this sleeping little town and checking out the sights, I set my mind on a hilly outcrop and tried to figure out the best way to get there. I drove to the closest or rather the safest place I would leave my car and set out, determined.

You know when you’re shoe shopping, or fishing reel shopping or car browsing and all of a sudden you see a pair of shoes that practically have your name written all over them. You exclaim to your shopping partner – “I have to have these”. This was like that for me and the hill. Internally, I exclaimed – “I have to go there”.

Thankfully nearby I saw a path. A formal council made path that looked like it could end up in the direction of my hill. Of course, it was now my hill. I had already become possessive. Having time up my sleeve and the makings of adventure in my heart, I set off down the path.

First roadblock. Fork in the road. I took the road less traveled. Thought not my natural disposition, it is what Robert Frost would do after all. I started to run and got excited because the path felt right. Robert Frost however does not always know what’s what and this path went almost nowhere. I mean, it technically led to the beach, if you felt like bush bashing to get there. While the beach is all well and good, my hill, that was my destination. I turned around surprisingly undeterred and chose the second path. It felt mildly better and was definitely worth a shot. Grateful for the almost paved pathway, I carried on.

I was tempted to be disappointed when this path also just led to the beach. My hill was surrounded by beaches which although gave it its key reason for its charm, it made access difficult, or at least deceptive. Content to wander on the nearly deserted beach, I walked in the direction of my hill. I kept walking and watched the few surfers who were keen enough to brave the near winter chill.

To my great delight I realised upon further inspection the rocks that I thought were my barrier to the hill, became my literal stepping stone to the hill. Isn’t that often the way? What was the once barrier became the step to freedom, if you only persevered.

I greeted the man walking down the rocks with his two dogs with a cheery ‘hello’ and rolled up my jeans, ditched my jacket and ran. Easily jumping across smooth well worn rocks and up the already worn pathway of the grass that had been trampled down by the many footsteps that had scaled this hill before me.¬†Out of breath and struck by how completely surrounded I was by beauty. I thought to myself, ‘I’m so glad I came here’.

This whole process, which really only took about 20 minutes in total, threw my life onto the chopping block. Or the examination room, or the operating table. Whatever is the best way to describe the way I take regular life occurrences and use them to completely deconstruct my life.

I thought about how perhaps despite bravado and courage, I am not, at heart, a risk taker. I’m not sure if that completely bothers me except to say that I think perhaps trail blazers are risk takers. And I do want to be a trail blazer.

My quest for the hill threw into question whether or not, if a path had not already existed, would I be sitting here having not climbed that hill. How many setbacks would it have taken me before I gave up. One more, maybe two more wrong paths? How desperately did I want to sit atop that hill. Would my drive force me to push doubt and fear aside and blaze a new path? I don’t know if it would.

Once when I was a kid, I tried to make a path. We lived on acreage and our grass had grown rather long. One day when I was playing outside in the long grass as only a child would do (hello! snakes!) I had this random idea to try and make a path, an obvious path from one place to the next. Perhaps it was a path from the gate to tree swing I can’t really remember except that I traipsed and stomped back and forth over the same place, over and over, attempting to blaze a trail. It was hard, and I don’t think it really worked.

I think about that and I think about how many people fearless people and over how long it took to create the path I walked today. I’m so grateful for trailblazers. I’d like to think that today I played my part in keeping that path well worn, so that others could follow behind me another day.

I’m so grateful for men and women who decided to make a stand for something that I now freely walk in. The abolition of slavery, rights for women, freedom of speech. Somehow, these people, one after the after, overcame fear and doubt to blaze a trail, for me. By exercising my freedom, I keep that path well worn, so that we never go backwards.

I’m grateful, but I want more.

Part of me wished that it was me who first discovered that hill. That it really was my hill. And part of me is afraid. Afraid of what I would encounter of my path, of failing. Sometimes it’s easier to go nowhere at all then to go and have to return defeated.

Part of me wants to make a stand for something that’s never been done before. To make my mark. And part of me is afraid. Afraid of what I’ll encounter on my trail, of failing, that I would burn out rather than blaze.

God, snuff out the fear and let the part that yearns for more, grow into a fiery flame.

I want to blaze a trail.

Written on the road. (c) steffanywillis.com

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