I wrote this poem once about a single path and the crossroads it constantly presented. I think about this poem tonight as I try to deal with all that somehow was brought to my plate for me to consume or discard. Life is a journey, as the old saying goes. A path that we must travel despite the hardships, despite the lack of preparation, despite our own desire to sit and rest.
The path has small divots, a low shoulder at times, and even dangers around curves seen and hidden. The path has holes that will cause you to trip, to break your ankle, your leg, your very heart. It moves and winds, often so quickly that the scenery flashes by like the days of your children.
There are no signs on this road. There are symbols, little whispers of the wind forcing you to see that which you would rather forget, but there are no directions. There is no map to print or solution to find. Just a long road that takes the very foundation you built on the last mile and rips it from you. You look desperately for moments of peace, of a smooth ride, of ease; and the moment you may have finally surrendered to the brutality of the journey, it begins to rain so hard your tears have no place to land.
And there is no end. No compensation for the pain and the heartache. There is no reason for why you are walking the path. A day of happiness? A moment? One tiny smile earned and then destroyed before your next breath? A heaven that is promised but not guaranteed But you do suffer, and you do continue because life and the journey itself will not let you do otherwise.
Maybe the path takes you to the glitter, the music, the parades of marching bands. Maybe the path takes you to the winding hills of the mountains of our fore bearers, or the deserts that were once covered by the rain of the thousands and the greens of deep forests. Maybe the path takes you home, a place that can’t be recognized in the fog of our world, but in the soul’s single breath.
The journey isn’t easy, and it isn’t even all the way kind. It is full of anger, frustration, jealousy, and hate. It is full of all the hard and deep emotions of the soul that can’t be explained in the poems and lyrics that move us. It is full of the utter injustice of daily life, and it tears us until the soul floats free. It is the demons that haunt us, and the nightmares that taunt us; and the journey is the death that awaits us.
There are moments, pure moments, but they come at prices that contain bitterness and defeat. There are moments that are built so high that the storms only rain on one side. There are moments that can build us not with mortar and brick, but with tears, blood and the sorrow of truth. We fight to continue, and we fight to run, but at the end of the day there is still another step to be taken.
The truth about life is there is always another step to be taken. We lay down at night to gather our breath and allow our tears to fall, and still the journey waits on us. We find stones to sit on, water to wade through, and trees where the shade is plentiful. We find new shoes, new glasses, new knowledge, and still there are more steps to be taken. Despite the advancement, there are still steps to be taken.
While one is happy there is joy in the journey, in the discovery of the new. There is happiness to be found in the virgin snow, and the ancient wind. There are voices to comfort, and voices to sing. There are prayers to be whispered and journeys to begin again. There is hope.
But always, despite that hope, there is another step. Until one feels like the whole of the journey has no meaning, has no reason. There is always a step to lift you up, and always a step to take you down. There is always another road to cross, a mountain to dig under, and a ladder to climb. There is always the journey.
Whether it is dark as night, or light as day, there is always the journey. You can’t escape it with pills, with drink, with desperation. There is always the journey. You fight it, subject yourself to it, you defy it, but it ultimately will win. The next step is always there; the journey is always there.
There are days when I don’t want to walk anymore. There are days when the journey seems to be a simple merry-go-round, taking me over and over to the desolation of the lit mind. There are days when I am tired; when I am completely taken with the reality of the journeys continuation. There are days when I can do nothing but sit down, and wait for the wind to cry my name.