Congratulations. You’ve won.
You’re going on a trip. There is no time to pack. The realization swallows you up and drops you in the middle of nowhere. A dusty road is ahead, stretching all the way to the horizon. There is nothing for miles. Your only option is to start walking.
Except you don’t. You sit in the middle of the road and ask yourself how you got here. Why you? Why now?
The sun beats down in you in the day. The night is cold and dark. More often than not, the torrential rains pour. You’re completely exposed to the elements. Hungry, thirsty, hot, cold, wet. Confused, afraid, angry, alone, and indescribably sad. You realize you can’t stay here. You have to go somewhere, or you’ll go insane.
The Journey begins.
This is no walk in the park. You’re already weathered, your skin sunburnt, your body fragile and probably sick. You gradually realize you’re just trying to survive, and most days you wish you wouldn’t.
Somehow, you do. You find food along the way. It isn’t much at first, but it sustains you.
Still, the rain pours more often than the sun shines. Both tax your reserves. There is no middle ground. Not yet, anyway.
Eventually, you notice the scenery changes up ahead. A few trees offer shade. You find refuge from the rain. But you can only set up camp for so long. You have to keep moving forward.
There are days when the weather is favorable and you cover many miles. But then there are weeks when you barely move at all.
You find there are other people who communicate with you, but often at a distance. They are afraid of getting too close to your road. They know you will face many perils they are unprepared to witness. These are the people who cheerfully talk about the weather. “The sun is shining,” they proclaim from behind their sunglasses, but it is burning you. “Learn to dance in the rain,” they advise, but it is drowning you. These are the people who judge your position in this journey. “Why are you still at Point B? Shouldn’t you be at Point C?”
Yet they have no understanding or comprehension that there is no gradual progression to a point. There are no places of interest on this road.
However, there are people who don’t say anything at all. And if they do, it is usually in the form of “Keep Going.” Some may hold the umbrella during a downpour. Some may even walk with you for a spell. Others will come during your darkest hours and sit with you until the first sign of light returns.
This journey is not a race. It is a lifelong trek across a dangerous wilderness. There are no detours and no shortcuts.
But you start to realize there isn’t just an end. There is a destination.
Years may pass along this road. Decade after decade. The seasons will change, but the road doesn’t get easier. Any peace or sense of calm you may have is always followed by a sickening dread of reality, that you are on this road alone and you have no idea when you’ll get There. Sometimes you wonder if there is even a “There” at all.
But you have to believe there is. And when you finally arrive, people will want to know how you survived. Those who’ve never been on this journey will marvel at your seeming strength. And you will laugh at them, remembering all the times you fell down and failed.
But you know how you survived. And at the end of this road, the people who held the umbrellas and walked with you and sat in the darkness with you will be there. And you will know that you were never truly alone after all.
You survived. You made it. Let the healing begin.