The man had been on the trail for several days without seeing a single soul. He carried the weight of his pack on his shoulders like he did the rest of his life, and at this point, his entire being ached. It wasn’t the pain that he sometimes felt after a day hike, or even after living on the trail for a couple of days. This was a pain that was now etched deep into his being. Each step became more difficult and as he climbed and crested each hill, while thoughts of home swirled in his head making him homesick.
He did, however, enjoy the solitude.
His journey had begun innocently enough. While he loved his home, which happened to be a small log cabin that sat unobtrusively deep in the suburban woods of New York, he knew that some time away would do him some good. For years, his life seemed to resemble a mouse on one of those exercise wheels that you see in the pet store. Climbing on the wheel every day, he always hoped for change, but it never came. The wheel just kept turning and turning, never, ever changing. He thought about this often.
He did, however, enjoy the routine.
Getting up each morning, he would let his dog out, safe in the knowledge that he could make his rounds, mark his territory and return unscathed. Once his trusted companion returned and ate, he would sit and plan his escape until he had to leave for work at a job that he had been at for a very long time. This went on year after year after year.
He did, however, enjoy planning for what he believed would be a great escape.
When he moved out of the town where his two children had grown up, he thought for sure that he would be more grounded as he got older. But the itch to get out found him, consumed him and shook him to his core.
He did, however, enjoy thinking about his children.
Back on the trail he stopped for a water break and was thankful for the rest. The long days of up and down all day were starting to take a toll on him and he actually relished the down time. As he cooked his lunch, his mind began to wander and the aches began to fade. At this point he thought that it might be nice to actually see someone, even if just for some conversation. After devouring his lunch, he spent the next ten minutes putting everything back in his pack, filling his water bottles and retying his boots.
He did, however, enjoy the feeling of getting back on the trail.
As he slowly started hiking again, his thoughts wandered and he allowed himself to think about the here and now. Anxiety set into him with a vengeance as he thought about his life and the direction that he thought it should have gone. He could now see that the path he had been on and was still on was the correct one. The one that he was traveling would allow him to reach his destination. Seeing what he had, why did he think it was necessary to escape? What was driving him to stay on the trail day after day? What was left?
And with that, knowing that his journey could now end, he headed home.