So…I got lost today. I went hiking at Eisenhower Park, where I’ve been going for about 18 years. And for all of those 18 years, I have taken the same path, the same route, without having to think too much about it. But today, for some reason, I was in deep thought (that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it) and I missed my usual “turn-off” to the left, the paved shortcut to the Tower.
And I ended up lost on an unknown path.
It began as it always does, the initial muscle burn of the first incline. Watching the butterflies fly around me. Listening for any rustling in the bushes, in case some flying thing might dart out from behind a small tree and startle me. Listening for slithery things in the grass that might dart out and make me scream. Because nature’s fine, but I don’t do slithery. I did see a cute lizard. I would have said “here leezard, leezard” out loud if there hadn’t been so many people around. I may or may not have thought it.
There was not one single cloud in the sky. The sun was warm and the breeze was welcome. The bluebonnets filled the fenced-in area at the bottom of the trail. Once in awhile, a huge gust of wind would blow the tops of the trees. Just like in the horror movies when the wind was the foreshadowing of the monster, only with less horror and more peace.
I continued walking and listened for footsteps behind me. The slow ones make me nervous, the quick ones make me step aside so the joggers can go past. I have a hard enough time just walking the trail but there are always some who run it. Whatever. I’m good with walking.
Most of the path is pretty even, but there are challenging inclines and declines. I like that. Status quo is boring. I managed to avert a thigh charley horse trauma. Never had those before. It would seem that the closer you get to 35, things start to happen to your body that didn’t used to happen. [Insert unpleased, “I’m not really 35, what the &%#@ happened?” face here.]
I must say, though, that my gluteus is feeling rather maximus. However, I found out I need new hiking boots. These make my feet hurt. I guess 15 years old is their limit. And only two bugs flew into me. Frankly, that’s two too many.
I love to people-watch and there is a plethora of a cross-section of humanity when you’re hiking. You’re typically looking down so as not to trip on something and injure a body part, but usually when I hear somebody coming toward me, I’ll look up, make eye contact, smile and say hello. Some people won’t even look at you. Some smile, too much in the zone to speak lest they break their groove. Some smile and say hello in that out of breath way that I dared to use once in the police academy when we were running dreaded courtyard laps and I was already out of energy. And then Officer Chavez made me do push-ups. Lesson learned: sound like you are strong and have air even when you don’t. So that’s what I do on the trail.
Then there are those with dogs. I said hello to quite a few dogs…and I said hello to their humans since they were, you know, standing there. Dog people, I have found, are friendlier. Because, well, DOGS. Duh.
So, back to my trail. I have taken this same trail for 18 years and I know what it looks like. And I know what it doesn’t look like. I was about ten yards into a giant tree-root-infested trail when I realized I didn’t know this one. A shot of panic filled my innards. It took me back to when I was a new tween and I and two friends got lost at an event. Really lost. But thankfully we were found back then.
Thankfully now I ran into a young couple who reassured me the tower was just up that way over the bridge and to the right. Bridge? I’ve been coming here 18 years and I never knew there was a bridge! There is a bridge. And you turn right after it and end up on the path I know. Once I hit that familiar part, I felt silly, but there was a huge relief. I was found.
I’m sure John Newton meant something deeper when he penned Amazing Grace and wrote those words “was lost but now am found”, however, my relief was seriously profound and Jesus’ name was mentioned. At least once.
Anyway, I finished my trail, wrapped up the outing, and headed home. I’m not pleased I got lost, but I’m glad I now know about the bridge…and about another part of the trail that I can call familiar. I will not get lost again. If I choose to take a different trail, it will be because I’m paying attention and I make that decision intentionally. But I’m thankful for the jolt out of my comfort zone. I need that once in awhile. And I’m thankful I found my way back to my comfort zone. I need that, too.
How do you handle being jolted out of your comfort zone?
Becky is a single mom and a reluctant disciple, called to share her story with others in her own unconventional way. She knows God equips her for her journey, and does her best to trust in His plan for that journey, and not to judge others on their journeys…unless the waist of their pants is at their butt cheeks; then she thinks they should pull those puppies up. Or if somebody says she eats too much chocolate; then she just can’t be friends with them anymore. But she will pray for them. Join her to discover how your plans and God’s plans come together in this life filled with groovy trails.