A Birthday Journey

Today Finn and I celebrate our birthdays. We start our special day with a nice long trail run, our favorite thing to do together. 

Finn watching birds on Shy Bear Trail
It's foggy and cool. I like running in the forest in the fog; it makes everything feel close and intimate. Hushed. With the leaves off the trees, the forest feels bigger and more open yet the fog helps keep my focus tight, on the trail, the ferns, moss-covered tree trunks and scattered, decaying leaves.

 Finn rolls in the leaves and ferns while I take photos, trying patiently to wait until we can run again.

We spend two hours in the forest, seeing only two people - one walking with his dog, a pair we often see here early in the morning, the other hiking a route that has us come upon him twice. The first time, just past a trail junction, Finn sees the hiker first and stops to wait for me, causing the man to comment, "He knows which way to go." The second time Finn is again ahead of me (he almost always is) so this time the man said, "I see he's still leading the way!"

Otherwise, it's just me and Finn, each traveling with our thoughts. Finn's seem to be focused on spotting the next squirrel or bird while mine are more contemplative, reviewing the past year and thinking about what the next year might bring. 

My reflective mood began soon after I awoke this morning with the poem that arrives in a daily email from The Writer's Almanac with Garrison Keillor. 

Today's poem is The Journey by Mary Oliver, a poet I admire. Her poem speaks of following your own path, your own voice, ignoring those who hold you back and keep you from finding your true self. As I near the publication of my first book, a labor of love I've been working on with varying levels of persistence for the past ten years, I realize I'm on the journey she describes. I'm finally setting aside internal and external doubts that I'm a writer and the stars that are trying to light my way are finally breaking through the clouds. It's exhilarating and freeing, just like trail running. Too bad it took me fifty-seven years to get here.

Better late than never.

My oldest friend Kelly sent me a birthday gift. We've been friends since seventh grade. Usually we send each other birthday cards, not gifts. This gift arrived in the mail a couple weeks ago, with a note saying I wasn't to open it until my birthday, but she was sending it early because she would be in New Zealand for most of December. "I couldn't resist it," her note said.

As requested, I waited until today to open Kelly's gift.

She nailed it. Perfect t-shirt for me.

Rebecca WallickComment