Recently, after a long day on Planet Wellsboro (my nickname for one of the agencies I consult with: there I conduct evaluations for children with behavioral/developmental/emotional issues), I took a 21-mile bike ride along part of the Pine Creek Trail that runs the length of the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon.
I like this trail, particularly after having a difficult day: it cleanses my mind and soul as the day’s images and words fall away with each mile of gravel trail passing beneath my wheels. Too, I allow myself to enter a meditative state created by my rhythmic breathing, the solitude, the woods, the creek and the extensive wilderness that wraps itself around me. Though physically isolated and miles from civilization, I feel very safe and connected to The Universe.
On this day, I had figured that I had enough sunlight to ride to the 19 mile marker (a few miles beyond Tiadaghton) before returning to Darling Run (10.5 miles away). As is my routine, I rode to the marker, took a few pics, then cycled back to my car.
Of course, I posted a pic of the ride on FaceBook, but this morning when I awoke and felt compelled to write, I found this one.
Mile marker 19.
Sitting at this computer, I saw in my mind’s eye the letters N-I-N-E-T-E-E-N flowing one at a time over this image’s background as if part of a prayer wheel.
On Tuesday, the thought occurred to me how I need markers on my life’s path: they let me know where I’m at (in my here and now moments), how far I’ve come (in my reality-checking moments), and how far I have to go (in my manifesting moments). They reflect my progress, my journey, my goals.
I know this particular marker well because I am often required to turn back at this point by the fading daylight. But, the number holds a much greater significance on my life’s path. In May of 1979, I was nineteen and my life was, quite frankly, a mess. I won’t go into details here, but those of you who have read UNSOLICITED SUBMISSIONS are aware that I experienced an extremely traumatic childhood. Though I was admitted to college a year early, my life soon took a turn for the worse and I found myself homeless and dealing with even more trauma.
In a room
Furnished (double bed, dresser, nightstand),
With backpack, Nikes, and razor
To spring’s morning.
The air smelled of birth.
Go soon (of course).
Go soon (please).
In a room
Furnished (faces, names, voices),
Saying what they said
Saying how they said
Doing what they did
Doing how they did.
Revisited upon me
In the nightmare
Of my memories.
No more running
No more hiding,
Like morning dew
In the warming sunshine.
There’s more to me
Than you, you, and you.
Than pain, fear, and shame.
There’s my hand.
There’s my hand!
In a room
Furnished (last thoughts, last feelings, last words)
Ripping up a letter
After my hand
Lowered the razor
And banished suicide
From my path.
My entire 19 year-old life that May morning came down to a single penetrating insight that has since formed the foundation of my existence: despite everything that happened to me at the hands of other people, it was my hand on the razor blade.
This was an overwhelming revelation: I was making a conscious decision to do this to myself! I had all the power in deciding how to respond to everything. I was the only one in that rented room: the other people who had abused me and violated me weren’t there. Hell, they did even care!
What strength I embraced in that moment!
What serenity swaddled me in that moment!
In that magical moment my life opened up, preparing me to move beyond my childhood’s numerous hells to a greater awareness of myself and others.
I did not, could not change what had previously took place: I could and did, however, change my responses to not only my past, but also my present and my possible futures. As I embraced this life-changing epiphany, I became more aware of not only the waking world, but also of the dream world and learned how to safely explore both.
I have continued along the path which The Universe has laid before me. This journey has led to many wonderful realities including healing, love, parenting, self-awareness, success, creativity, and growth.
As I prepare to undertake this next part of my path including marriage to a beautiful and loving equal, and pursuing adventures in avenues of loving, healing, and creating, I remain grateful for that morning’s lesson (and its numerous offspring).
Now, if you excuse me, I feel compelled to take another bike ride, though this time it will be on River Walk in Williamsport.