The Day Floods the Night

A Just-Get-to-the-Point Metaphor

The night feels darker when lost deep in the forest. Cradled under treetops and cloaked from the light of the sky, everything looks different. Once-familiar paths shift unexpectedly and snake-like, veering off at odd angles. The dark is dramatic, altering every little bit of light and making shadows reach towards us from around corners. 

With our flashlights, we illuminate narrow hallways between the trees ahead. Regardless of how bright, nothing is ever clear. North looks the same as south, and east the same as west. But we continue on, the light in our hands bouncing with our steps —  a beacon to whatever hides nearby.

We tend to think of the night in hushed whispers and muffled voices, tiptoes, and quiet sighs. But in the forest, the night noises are loud. Echoes multiply, moving towards and away from us simultaneously. Twigs snap behind us even if no one is there. Our footsteps sound like that of many — no matter how lightly we step. Leaves scamper despite the stillness of windless air.

We feel vulnerable, unsure, and unprepared. A minute seems to take much longer than a minute and self-doubt seeps in like a spill soaked up by paper. No one saunters through the dark wood. We move fast, pushed ahead by the dark behind us. 

We all have dark times. When we try to describe it to another or even understand it in hindsight, it seems like something is lost in translation. Dark times cannot be shared like the good times are. 

When we find ourselves in a dark place, it can feel like being lost deep in the night forest. If you are in those dark woods now, you aren’t alone. Some of us are there with you, with wide eyes that search for dawn.

But, the passing of time is certain. The day will flood the night, making what was once shadowed become enlightened.

Things will get better. Or maybe we just get better at things. Either way, we come out on top so there is no sense in running, in panic. The point is that we will rise stronger and with a greater understanding of ourselves, our purpose.

Take these difficult moments in. Live them, breathe them. Focus on how the night air feels wrapped around you. Take your control back and light a match. Sit in that dark forest and rest beside the campfire. 

We have to fully experience the dark in order to truly appreciate the light. 

Purpose becomes renewed with a fresh set of eyes….

I’ll see you in the morning.

“Grief is not a disorder, a disease, or a sign of weakness. It is an emotional, physical, and spiritual necessity, the price you pay for love. The only cure for grief is to grieve.” 

Earl Grollman

Also published on Medium. Read me here.

Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash

When I Left My Dream Job

and went to play in the woods instead.

“Red Trail” 7.13.19
photo by author

Last January, I walked away from a job that I initially loved and had worked hard to get. Structural changes trickled down and leadership had a massive turn over. New management came through and the environment became toxic.

I felt lost. I realized that I had wrapped my entire self-image and self-worth into my career. I am not sure, but it might end up being a chip on my shoulder for the rest of my time on this planet. The experience changed me profoundly.

Unfortunately, nearly all of my friendships were work-related. It is rather embarrassing and it hurts to say, but losing the shared atmosphere caused my friendships to dwindle quickly. You know how that goes.

At the same time, I inadvertently pulled my head out of the sand and finally faced some hard truths about my 24-year relationship. That’s a story meant for another rainy day, but I mention it to illustrate the Snowball Effect that seemed to occur when I started to evaluate the world around me.

I took a couple of months off and slept. And felt sick. Really sick. Like not able to look in the mirror sick. And I felt useless and aimless and pointless and was filled with purposeless-ness. I mean, I *was* without purpose. I needed something that I couldn’t name. And I was lonely.

On a cold spring day in April, I went into the woods. To hike, to hide, to feel like I was running away- without actually having to run away. It was a distraction disguised as a positive outlet. 

I came up with arbitrary hiking goals that included:

  • Twelve Miles A Day Because Every Day is Leg Day
  • A Marathon a Week or It Didn’t Happen
  • Two-A-Days or Bust (super effective way to avoid being at home)
  • Muddy and Rainy: Better for the Brainy
  • If You Aren’t Crying Then You Aren’t Trying

But, seriously.

To feel a sense of control, I avoided any kind of paved trail and sought to find the more unknown trails. The messier the terrain, the better. The less-traveled, the better. I even made a couple of my own.

Over the course of 4 months, I lost the extra 40 pounds that my “dream” job had gifted me through stress and break-room bakery.

I sprained each ankle no less than 3 times, tore my calf muscle (brutal), tweaked my knee, slipped, fell, bruised, bled, and I might have hit my head a time or two. I worked through each injury, taking a day or two off when absolutely necessary. Basically, there was a lot of ice and kinesiology tape involved.

But I needed to push past my physical and mental limits. The physical struggle was the only thing that offered me release, let me cry, feel alive. Without it, everything remained all bound up somewhere in my head. 

The exhaustion made my sleep a little less restless —  although my legs would wake me nightly with the dull ache of overtraining. But I preferred it, as it was a physical pain that demanded more attention than the emotional turmoil I felt.

I have no real lesson to share here. But I am still out there. Down to 2–3 x a week because of the winter weather and the nightshift job I have to maintain.

And I’ll never stop. I may move to the mountains and make hiking take over my life. The trees, flowers, and even the bugs. The sun, the ice, the mud, the wind, the warm, and the cold. It is all so beautiful.

Maybe I need a hiking buddy. So if you see me out there, stop and say hi. 
If I’m crying, stop and say hi, anyway. It’s a good thing. It means I’m breaking through something.

And I will come out of the woods stronger… or fall down a mountain trying.

CVNP 7.6.19
photo by author

cross-posted on Medium