When I first was introduced to trail running by a friend, we would hit the trails together, sometimes joined by other friends. After my world imploded 7 years ago, I began trail running by myself, though, and have continued to do so. The trails are a sacred safe space for me, and for many reasons, I choose to run alone. This morning, though, I had unexpected company.
As I pulled out of my driveway, I felt a bit distracted and anxious, and I asked God to calm the chaos in my mind and to ease my anxiety and worries. I turned on my satellite radio and immediately felt like I had been heard. The Doors’ song, LA Woman, was playing, and I was transported back to all of the times my dear friend, Michelle, and I would blast that song, usually while flying down River Road or Lime Kiln Lane, in my Jeep. We joked that LA stood for Louisville Area, in order to make ourselves the object of Jim Morrison’s obsession and desire, and we would sing along with great enthusiasm. Having just commemorated the second anniversary of her death a few days ago, it felt like she was with me. And she was not alone.
When I turned down the road that leads me to the spot where I usually begin and end my trail runs, another close friend made her appearance known via satellite radio. My smile grew wider, while more tears streaked down my cheeks, when I heard the opening notes of Tiny Dancer by Elton John. Charlene was in the house, or rather, she was in the car. Charlene is my fast talking, straight shooting, music loving, spiritual Jersey girl, who along with her equally bad ass Jersey best friend, befriended Michelle and me our freshmen year of college. Her birthday is in two days, and the third anniversary of her death is in a little over a month. Like Michelle, she is physically not here, but she remains with me always. As does one other friend.
When I headed into the woods, I took Michelle and Charlene with me and began my usual dialogue with them. Silently, I told them how very much they are missed by everyone and how much I love them, and I selfishly asked them to watch over me and to ask for help from the heavens above on my behalf. As I recalled some of my favorite memories with them, when someone else decided to join us.
As I thought of my two friends, REM’s song, Sweetness Follows, marked the arrival of the sweetest soul, Michael, on the trails. This song was released a number of years after Michael’s death 33 years ago, but it personifies him. He is the sweet soul who told me, at the tender age of 16, that I was extraordinary, and when I asked him what he meant by that, he simply smiled and said, You’ll have to figure that out, and when you do, God help the rest of the world. The rest of the world remains safe, as I still am trying to figure that out.
So, I ran alone, yet I felt the presence of these three friends so very strongly, and I continued my chat with all of three of them and then listened for their responses. They did not disappoint me, for when I quieted my mind and opened up my heart, I heard them. When I exited the trails, I took with me the thoughts that lingered:
This situation is temporary. As I shared with them the source of my recent bout of anxiety, I felt a sense of calm come over me. I was comforted by the thought that the situation that has presented itself to me is not permanent, so, I need not react in a rash manner or fret about the outcome. It will pass, but what is meant for my greatest good will not pass me by.
I am enough and do not need to prove myself. This trio reminded me that I am good enough as is and do not need to convince anyone else that I am worthy of being loved and accepted unconditionally.
Everything will be okay, including me. Sometimes, when I am faced with challenges, my fear is that I am not going to be able to overcome them and that I will end up inordinately alone. For the nearly 6 1/2 miles on the trails today, my special messengers made me feel as if everything is and will be okay and that I will be okay, too. I still do not know what will happen to make things okay, but they made a pretty convincing argument.
Life is short and meant to be lived. My three friends lived life out loud in their own respective ways, and no-one could ever have predicted that they would not be here today. My plan is to live at least until I am 100 years old, but I know that there are no guarantees, only endless possibilities to create the life I want, not settle for a life that is merely mediocre.
While I will continue to keep the trails to myself, at least until the time is right to share them with another living soul, I hope that Michelle, Charlene, and Michael will join me again. I get by with a lot of help from my friends, both seen and unseen.
That’s another story . . .
Categories: That's Another Story