Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Friendship is a Journey

The Man and I went home to the great state of Arkansas, the Natural State, the Land of Opportunity, Hawg Country, the state that holds all of my childhood memories in her hands. Both of our trips to my childhood home have been short and I have had to pack every memory I want to share with him into a scant few days...going to Lake Ouachitia (via boat and via meandering raft), wandering the farms of my grandparents, and eating my favorite Arkansas Cuisine (Stubby’s Barbeque and Catfish from Cajun Broiler). On this trip, we planned a visit to Petit Jean Mountain (subject of a previous blog about needing adventure). Petit Jean has a stunning view of the Arkansas River Valley were one can see for miles. Petit Jean also has a stunning hike to a waterfall, Cedar Falls. http://www.petitjeanstatepark.com/things_to_do/trails/cedar_falls.aspx

It was a beautiful day - not too hot and not too humid. The Man, my little Chickadee, my Mama and I embarked down the trail. Now, I say the words trail with a bit of hesitation as there were times when the “trail” was simply a stretch of large rocks to navigate, creeks to cross, and boulders to go around. Here in Indiana, if there is a sign that warns wannabe hikers that the trail is strenuous, you know that it has a bit of a hill grade. This trail, however, took strenuous to a new level!!! The Man at one point thought that Chickadee and I were out of our minds when we took shortcuts down the side of the mountain…..but I was home and I was happy!!

As we hiked down the mountain (and pondered our hike back UP said mountain), we kept an eye out for each other...stopping to give a hand to ensure no one slipped and looking for the best way to navigate large rocks, muddy trails and steep inclines. Sometimes Chickadee would lead, sometimes Mama would lead and sometimes the Man and I would lead chit-chatting along the way. Occasionally, one of us would go their own way for a bit (I just had to cross the creek instead of taking the rickety bridge across) and we would meet up again. We warned each other of impending danger...watch that poison ivy! Don’t put your hand between the rocks when you go down!! There might be snakes!!...and we took pictures at every opportunity.

From time to time, a woman would stop me and inquire about my choice of hiking attire. I had on a cute pair of black shorts, my Josef Seibel leather sandals (they are soooo cute and practical as they have excellent grips on the bottom and flexion - I wore them through Greece and Turkey) and carried my cute leather clutch from ReFind (a girl needs her purse). Now, being an experienced hiker, I understand the principles of good hiking shoes/socks/gear and am not in any way advocating unsafe behavior, however, I have hiked up Vesuvio in Naples watching Italian women going up the side of the volcano in short skits and stilettos…even the elderly women were wearing heels….but I digress. It gave Chickadee great pleasure to watch these sweet mother hens clucking away at my poor choice of attire, reminding her of all the times I fussed at her for shoe choices (although I still maintain that plastic flip-flops are shower shoes and should only be worn in the most casual of situations)….. Chickadee smiled her brilliant smile knowing that her mother is definitely, “one of a kind.”

What I enjoyed most about our outing was the ease of our interactions. We accepted each other as we were--limitations and all. We helped one another without judgment and offers of help were gladly accepted. When The Man presented his hand to help me up a rock, it was gladly received even though I am quite capable of scaling up the side of a rock. When Chickadee and I had different approaches to navigating the boulders to get under the waterfall, we allowed each other space to do so while keeping an eye out for danger. That’s what friendship is all about….being fellow hikers on the journey of life. Friendship is about allowing the other to take their own path (even though it may be different for a moment) and still helping them out (even if their path turned out to be a mistake). Sometimes in friendship, you get to stand underneath a waterfall and enjoy the majesty and beauty of it all and sometimes it’s the hard work of climbing to the top over rocks and trees and steep, slick paths. Our destination was the waterfall, but our journey did not stop there.  We had to do the hard work of going back up. It would have been nice to set up camp at the waterfall...to stay in that place of beauty forever…..but we had to keep moving….had to get back on the daily trail of life (and of course, look for our next adventure).

When I got divorced, I realized how important friendships are. I changed zip codes and began to rebuild my life...a life full of beauty and adventure, of being seen and being known, of new friendships and new horizons. The friendships I made are invaluable to me…but to make those friendships, I had to allow myself to be open to new people and face my own fear of being rejected by them. It is only in openness that friendships can grow. My girlfriends (and guyfriends) have helped me to soar to heights unimaginable three years ago.

So Here’s To the Journey!!! The journey is what it is all about.

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