Carol A. Hand
There are times when the path ahead feels so uncertain. I find it fascinating that just a few days ago, I wrote about a time when I walked down a dark path even though I felt terror. I kept my eyes ahead and just kept walking toward my goal even though I wanted to run or give up. It’s not the first time I’ve felt that in my life. Today, I realize that it wasn’t the last.
Photo: Sky (Wikipedia)
I awoke this morning thinking about the path I’m on now – writing. Last night I fell asleep wondering if everything I’ve written so far is absolute boring nonsense. Should I go back and fix it? Should I just keep going – my original plan – and continue walking through the uncertainty and self-doubt? Should I begin again even though it would mean falling behind the schedule I set for myself? Or should I just give up and accept defeat without trying?
It’s early still, thanks to the end of “daylight savings time,” a social convention that makes half of my year feel unnatural. I promise myself to keep going, at least for a little while. If I give up too soon, I will always wonder. What could have been? An old song begins to play in my mind.
“When you walk through a storm
Hold your head up high
And don’t be afraid of the dark
At the end of the storm
There’s a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of a lark
“Walk on through the wind
Walk on through the rain
Tho’ your dreams be tossed and blown
Walk on, walk on
With hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone”
(Mahalia Jackson singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” from the musical Carousel by Rogers and Hammerstein)
I remember another time as I walked on a new path, leaving a safe but conventional, ordinary life behind. I set off with my one-and a-half-year old daughter in her stoller, a bag with her clothes and her food, and only twenty dollars in my pocket. We were hitchhiking along highways and country roads to a commune far away.
Still more than a hundred miles from our destination, we were hiking down a deserted stretch of road. I was pushing my daughter in her stroller with my eyes ahead. And suddenly I saw them in my peripheral vision, stretching out on both sides as far as I could see. We were flanked by the ancestors. I could feel their comforting, powerfully protective presence.
Moments later, a car with two young women drove up and asked me if we wanted a ride. They helped fold the stroller and store the bags in the backseat with me and my daughter. “Where are you going,” they asked. “We’re going to Warwick, Massachusetts,” I replied. “We’re going to the commune there.” “Oh, how exciting! We’ve always wanted to go there. We’ll take you the rest of the way.”
Living on a commune wasn’t the easiest thing my daughter and I have done during our lives. Yet the lessons we learned were sometimes extraordinary. So today, I’ll walk onward despite the fog and self-doubt.
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