Little did I know yesterday, when I set out for a national park by the Catawba River, that I was in for such an adventurous and adrenaline filled time. My sister and her husband were interested in seeing the once a year blooms of water lilies which create a sea of white spanning over the quarter of a mile wide River. It sounded like an incredible sight but unfortunately to get there involved heading down a trail filled with large roots and sections whose designer was not keeping the thought of disabled individuals in mind.
Unlike some others, who sit and roll instead of walk like myself, I don’t get very angry when faced with inaccessibility especially if it’s in a national park. I certainly wouldn’t want to be trying to escape out into the beauty of nature all the while using a cement sidewalk to get there. Just think if it became law to pave all hiking trails. When would it end? Pretty soon I’d be able to drive up to Mount Everest, which would be awesome, but unfortunately because of what happened to me I have to miss out on a few pleasures here and there in life. It just doesn’t seem fair to everyone else to try and cover the world in pavement and ruin Gods craftsmanship. I guess God made cement too, but you see where I’m going with this.
So I figured I would end up simply sitting by the River enjoying the scenery as everyone else saw the good stuff. When we got there however, my sister admitted that they couldn’t remember exactly how bad the path was so I decided check it out. The beginning of the trail was fine and I actually began to really enjoy myself. I was probably cruising down the trail around 5 mph or so, dodging small roots, hitting a couple here and there, and careening around trees. It reminded me of my old mountain biking days, flying down the trail feeling the exhilaration of making a perfect turn or picking just the right angle to crash through the tricky spots. Of course it wasn’t exactly the same but it was bringing a smile to my face and that’s all that matters.
A few minutes past and I began to think that maybe I could actually make it to this sea of lilies I had heard so much about. I mean it was right by the River so it should be flat, and if things were to get a little rough, my chair has four shock absorbers(that’s right, four) and has been known to conquer some pretty rough terrain. As the trail went on my doubts began to increase as it seemed things were getting progressively worse. What used to be a simple hop skip and a jump to get by, was now an obstacle course of steep inclines and jagged roots. Whenever I reached these areas mountain biking turned into a Four Wheeling adventure.
I would sit at the beginning of the obstacle and plan out the path I was going to take through the danger zone and let my brother-in-law know which side of the chair to push depending on in which direction I felt the chair might tip. I know, it sounds kind of crazy but it was actually a blast. My heart would begin to race as my wheels trudged over roots and powered their way through sandy areas. After each obstacle was completed, my sister would open her eyes and we would celebrate our victory. After a couple more Four Wheeling expeditions I was trying to figure out how to get off the end of a bridge when a family walked by. We asked them what the rest of the trail was like and discovered that there were stairs at the very end. Well, my beast of a chair can do a lot of things but going down stairs is not one of them. A nice woman showed me pictures of the flowers on her digital camera. I don’t know what it was like in person, but the pictures definitely didn’t meet my expectations so I wasn’t too sad about turning around. It was frustrating to start the adventure and not be able to finish it but at least I tried. My sister and her husband came back a little ways to help me find a nice spot by the River to hang out while they went on. On the way to find my hang out spot I hit a sandy incline and actually began sliding towards the River! I was calm at first simply waiting for the chair to lock but was taking a little longer than usual. Just as I began to get scared and call for help it locked into place. It was probably the scariest moment of the afternoon, but great fun!
Nestled amongst the trees I managed to find a great spot by the water, and I sat and enjoyed the sound of natural flowing water against the stones of the riverbed. I felt like I was back in the mountains sitting next to a cool mountain stream. Water has always fascinated me. One minute a stream or river can look calm and relaxing and the next minute it is a raging, uncontrollable force screaming out thunderous echoes, resonating its power. I love the way water flows without struggle or resistance. Caught behind a rock, water just sits patiently until the current decides which way to take it. I wish to live life like a River. Never fighting the current, simply flowing on whichever path the land wishes to take me. Like the River I would have awesome power yet it would emerge naturally and only when needed, never forced. A life of no resistance to what was, is, and will be. Like the water, I would be free.
It felt great to get back on pavement again. My back was sore, I had a crick in my neck, and my chair probably has twice as many sounds as it did before, but it was well worth it. One thing I miss is not being able to get out into nature anymore. It would be nice if we could find some wooded trails without quite so much adventure and where I could actually make it to my destination. The Four Wheeling was fun but after awhile I got kind of sick of scaring myself.
My last entry contains my new mantra, “I will face the unknown with confidence, it will work out, it always does”. I had originally thought I would state this mantra constantly throughout the day so as to train my subconscious to live without fear but I’ve run into a little problem. Stating the mantra constantly has forced me to constantly think about my fears and of the future. This has distracted me from one of my main philosophies of life which is to live life in the moment, because the present moment is where peace is found as well as God. But if I was to free myself of my fear of the unknown, I would be liberated to access the “power of now” more so than ever before. I believe my new mantra is forcing me to bring fear to the surface when it usually sits and dwells inside of me. In the past I’ve simply shoved it down and ignored it, only fighting it when I had to. Now I am purposely focusing on it so as to get rid of it once and for all, but is that even possible?
It’s good to face my fears but I realize that many times it is best to not constantly try and fix myself but simply sit in the moment. It’s quite a dilemma as I know the mantra is a healthy form of growth but at the present time stating it brings up many uneasy emotions. Purposely facing the fears of the subconscious is not a simple task and it has not been nearly long enough to say that the mantra is not working and give up on it. I will continue to use the mantra but know that there are many times to ignore my fear and focus on the good stuff. Fear is such a small portion of what we as humans contain. It is like a black speck on the surface of a heavenly white light which is our being. Yet why does that black speck contain so much power I do not know. How to approach my present stage of growth confuses me at the moment, more than usual at least. Maybe the coming week will bring me some answers.
I took a couple pictures of my little adventure. Unfortunately whenever I was doing the dangerous stuff I was so focused on the task at hand I didn’t take any pictures. But it happened, I swear!