“When hope springs eternal,
What river flows through us.
As darkness fades,
Your journey begins.
The lost shall be found,
The risen shall live again.”
I was awake.
I was standing on the coast of a place that few ever see. The crashing waves against tall cliffs in front of me. A cold wet ocean; wind whipping against my face. It felt good to be here I wasn’t exactly certain why.
I also could not remain.
As I turned away from the ocean I only heard one thought in my mind.
“How did I get here?”
It was rhetorical, of course as there was no one to answer me. I knew how I got here, regardless of whether I denied it or not.
I had done a lot of denying in the previous years.
The cold air from the coast was behind me. The windswept skies would remain in this place for others to find on their personal journey if they so chose.
It appears I had made it past the event horizon and survived to make it through to the other side I mused.
I took a few steps to see if I was really alive or if this was another of the many nightmares I have experienced most of my life.
I stood at base of a small trail leading away from the ocean of my rebirth looking for which direction to go.
I smiled momentarily as I realized there was only one way out.
There was fog obscuring the trees on the dilapidated path I was walking towards. This fog reminded me of being at my grand parents house in San Francisco as a child and watching it come off of the Pacific Ocean and past the Golden Gate Bridge.
I could smell the scent of pine off in the distance and took this as a good sign. When I was much younger this was the smell from Lake Tahoe that I equated with happiness.
It was time to begin.
Perhaps this was a pilgrimage. Or maybe something else. It was my own private “secret journey” as The Police song goes, without the holy man to guide me.
For so long I had needed rebirth. Maybe it was finally granted to me. Maybe I earned it.
Perhaps I had been through enough of the pain that the path of atonement brings for those dedicated to growth.
It didn’t really matter now. I was here and the fall into the abyss had not killed me. The rumors of my death appear to have been greatly exaggerated.
I suspected I knew where I was; the place between spiritual death, redemption and purgatory is real as it turns out.
So much about getting here had been about one thing for me; choice. A thing we all have.
I had made so many bad decisions I had lost count of what was good and what wasn’t.
Everything has beginnings and endings.
I was no different as it turns out.
The rain began to lightly come down and turn the uneven dirt and stone path into a small stream.
This was neither a problem nor a solution. It simply was the state of things. I must have needed the perspective, or motivation.
It was also muddy. I never liked getting my shoes muddy.
I realized that song lyric by Tears for Fears was true “...nothing good ever happens without some pain...”. I think I laughed at that. I was ok being done with the pain part also.
There was no direction on this journey.
There was just time to leave my fears behind.
Just move she said, just move.
In this place, and this existence, there was both desire and dreams to let it go and leave it all behind.
“We all have this choice” I repeated quietly.
We all have options, which we would know if we ever bothered to look at ourselves honestly, and with some patience.
Previously I had done neither. Lesson learned.
On my muddy path the wind would pick up and the cold would taunt me with the bitterness of only a thing that used to love me; that wanted to cause me pain now.
This particular storm was angry and I could no longer argue with her. I couldn’t reason with the tempest. She had died inside and I didn’t see that coming.
That anger and torment was a thing she had to see through to her own desired end now.
I had left. Never to return again.
I walked forward into that mist and into the brown shrubs and random weeds that would soon become small trees that lay ahead of me.
After a short time walking I had to remain motionless; silent to even hear the coastal waves crashing on the rocks of that foreign shore I once stood on.
I accepted this.
So much was gone. Sadness will dissipate and peace would be found.
If there was a sun overhead I couldn’t see it or feel its warmth. I could only feel the chill of the air and the cold dampness of the ever present fog.
Until the soul is in-tune with the flesh; the body is cold. I knew the sun would rise again.
Just keep moving; keep walking; keep going forward. My mantra.
In this place between the worlds I had been living I wasn’t hungry in the traditional sense. I didn’t know what the feeling was. I yearned to be filled with a peaceful light to feed my spirit.
Perhaps remorse had a friend in discovery of the self and I would meet them both while I sought these things.
I yearned to understand. In a way I was hungry for knowledge, but not anything logical.
I had far too many answers as it was.
Before my bloated corpse had died from the blight that had become my world I was always hungry; it wasn’t about food then either.
I had wanted more back then. More of the wrong thing usually. Sex, drugs and rock and roll turns out to be over-rated and rather empty.
That was too easy of an addiction to perpetuate.
I had been waiting to be free in a prison I had created. How I got out was a series of unfortunate decisions however.
I had goals to reach the sky when I had chained myself into a dark place surrounded by all of that anger. I would dwell endlessly on those things before.
I needed to stop these thoughts.
They had only been an anchor before.
I had made it a sufficient distance from the waves crashing on the coast to a place where more life was beginning grow around me.
Perhaps the spirits took some pity on me as I heard a new whisper while I slowly walked along into the vast emptiness of this strange sub-world. My own personal purgatory.
“Follow me, there are invisible lines to be seen.”
I laughed at the absurdity of what it had said to me.
I knew I should be thankful for even the absurd in this place.
It also struck me, I should just be thankful as a general rule. This was a new concept.
My logical mind needed to learn to shut up.
Before I could reply, I heard another voice “Who are you?”
This one sounded much older than the first and much more serious. Like a growl from deep within a cave.
It sounded ancient by comparison.
I stepped over a decaying log that had been laying in front of me wedged into the mud and I stopped.
I didn’t know who I was I thought.
A thought that was also quite unexpected.
I must have waited too long to respond.
My breath froze in front of me.
The fog that had been building on the periphery of where I was became darker and thicker.
Even the water coming down the stream that was the path I was walking had slowed to a standstill.
So many things quickly flashing though my mind. I was afraid.
I had to break the silence; I needed hope to survive; I didn’t know what to hope for; My concept of hope was ever evolving...
I cleared my thoughts before panic took over.
I spoke aloud back to the nothingness that was this ancient voice,
“I cannot give much of an answer at the moment it appears...”
I don’t know if my response was heard or even acceptable.
I stood their motionless waiting for a sign. Grasping into the void that this voice came from.
Without warning time seemed to begin again.
The fog scattered back into the trees and small plants of this barren landscape. Even the water resumed its motion back towards the sea on the little stream that was my muddy foot path.
A very light breeze went through the tall trees in the distance.
I continued on my path, in the mud, stepping over rocks and fallen branches trying not to fall
Each step mattered if only to my redemption.
I set my mind to the simplicity of focus; ove movement; of continuing.
Each foot forward was away from the emptiest place I had ever been.
I had my fill of darkness for this lifetime and the next.
As I was clearing my thoughts I laughed into the mist for a moment as I heard the word ‘karma’ echo out from my past. A word that should have a very different meaning than most of the times it was used in my presence.
I replied to myself “My karma is my own burden. Vengeance however, is yours to embrace if you choose.”
I wasn’t speaking to any one person; more the sum of negativity I was walking away from.
Some of that negativity was a mirror that had grown ugly in front of my eyes over many years.
My mind faded in and out of this place and many others I had been.
Brief flashbacks from before my fall;
The hot dryness of my youth in that forgotten little desert town in Southern California.
The loneliness of finding a new road when I was sent off to college.
The cement jungle and cubicle farms of my 30s.
The broken places my ego created or my insecurity caved into many years after that.
I was tired of feeding the pain.
The past needed to be gone, for good this time.
So many thoughts. I needed to purge them all to move forward.
Disjointed images and fragmented words filled the chaos of my brain.
Too much logic. Too many answers.
I wondered if this may have been the invisible lines I was supposed to find.
I didn’t know. I think I had forgotten what I did know in that moment.
The small muddy stream I was walking on had opened to a wide field. The yellowing grass almost looked cut as though it was a pasture or a place to rest.
My path had been ever so slightly uphill for sometime I realized as I entered this field. Why had I not noticed this before. It didn’t matter.
On the edges some thousand yards away from this opening was the beginning of a mountain, the shadows of which would be by my side for a long time I thought.
On the other side of the field was an expanse of trees so tall and straight they would touch the sky if no one was looking.
In the traditional sense I was lost in the wide openness of nothing.
However, one must have a direction to go in order to be lost. I laughed.
For a moment I stopped caring where I was or if I would ever know more of this world.
Are the invisible lines those things we put together from our various pasts that eventually bring us joy or perhaps understanding?
I made a conscious decision that the fog was going to be left behind if I kept going.
This land seemed to tell me ‘you have died in that prior life only to live another, now embrace it’.
The edge of the field I was standing on was calm in that it didn’t ask me any questions or provide me any answers.
This place was quiet contemplation.
It existed to allow me to decide how much latitude I needed in order to make my way.
The sky was grey as though I was on a North Atlantic island and the sun rarely came out long enough to change the grey to blue.
The ground was soft, yet not damp.
The grass was yellow and short.
The sounds in the distance were not a thing I could identify.
Or nothing I knew of yet.
I stood on this field where the path from the coast met this opening for the longest time.
Where I was time didn’t appear to have much meaning; so perhaps I wasn’t really there for long at all.
A hundred thousand years later or a second, I simply let gravity take over and one foot seemed to fall in front of the other and I started walking.
Something guiding me.
I felt lighter with each step.
Leaving so much behind.
This was a sensation that didn’t really make a great deal of sense. It also didn’t really matter.
“Just keep moving. Find yourself.” I said under my breath.
The seconds stopped ticking as minutes passed then hours passed, then days passed.
The field was unchanged. And I continued moving. To what end it didn’t matter.
The fog had begun to clear. How odd I thought, where did it go.
I wasn’t missing anything or anyone it occurred to me.
I was where I was supposed to be.
To accept myself for what I am.
To forgive myself.
To forgive others.
To let the past fade away and never repeat the same mistakes.
To never embrace the darkness I had allowed myself to grow accustomed to.
The secret journey, the pilgrimage, the rebirth from it all was now.
I found the beginning of the invisible lines.