On a hike around Lullwater Park, I passed by a man for the third time. One while driving to the parking area–he was walking–and twice on various parts of the loops I generally traverse. I joked about it. He said he was training for a backpacking trip in California. As I went onward, with my thoughts strangely unsettled, I went another round, and rediscovered the original path I used to take when walking home, early in the 1990s when I worked at the Pitts Theology Library at Emory. There’s a road intersecting that path that’s been added since then–when the back path used to get to apartments Emory finally bought and then connected to the campus.
I was remembering a friend. One of those friends who had more subtle influence in my life than I’d realized. I’ve found echoes of their character in my books–and beyond landscape descriptions used in one of my books from their experiences. We used to talk knives too, which isn’t actually all that unusual. Even beyond my escrima friends, I’ve got a few other friends, some writerly, who enjoy talking about weaponry.
I wondered, traversing the trails, why this friend I’ve not spoken to in some time–and that wasn’t unusual either; our paths rarely intersected. Besides life happened. Moves, work, children, major and small changes in the ebb and flow of a social circle… or circles. I could not help examining the bright flash of friendship that was both loss and light,. If it felt a bit like digging out a wound, it was one that was anesthetized with the knowledge of goodness.
Why was this person a muse? For my books? Despite the distance, why did they spark joy in my mind? And nothing romantic. I am fairly content where that’s concerned (and that person ended up being a character in a book on purpose!). They’re not the only friend who I think fondly of, but do not speak with on a regular basis; I’ll admit I do believe it is a friendship that is special. So what was the friendship showing me now? The memory of friendship.
Ask me what I do for fun, and I cannot give you a good answer. Honestly it’s often hiking alone or writing alone… beyond that? No clue. I think that the reason this friend has always sparked either a scene, or a character, or something is that they explore the world. I think that though we never, ever followed through on plans to go caving somehow remained.
I am not brave to challenge myself to do those things alone, but caving, for instance, isn’t really a solo activity. Neither are a few other activities I’ve done in the past that have gone deep into the wayside, and so far off my trail and path I wouldn’t even know how to find them.
But it made me think. I know I can’t ask my friend to be my adventure buddy. Life, again, happens. My opportunities and windows of time are so curtailed that when I do get free time I tend to pretty much sleep most of the time I’m actually back in my home. I do know that their life is equally constrained. Ah well.
However, I CAN actually set up a bucket list beyond my writing bucket list (yes, that’s about as buckety as I ever got!).
- I want to go kayaking again, and more than that, learn how to kayak better.
- I want to go caving with someone who knows what they’re doing.
- I want to finish building my labyrinth in my back yard.
- I want to get strong enough to where, when I have time again, I can take a rock climbing course.
- I want to go rappelling again.
- I want to add to this list and rediscover what I find FUN!
When I got home from my walk, the benefit of being grateful for my friend inspiring me yet again, and in different ways, I also did work in my dad’s old workshop trying to patch up a leaky basement wall (almost done). Removing a cabinet, which I thought I’d need help with: I did by myself. I was afraid to tackle it myself…
While I will challenge myself right now, and explore trails off of paths in Atlanta’s trail system, it’s that kind of bravery that I’ve been missing in my life. I don’t know where I lost that drive, and why it feels so small now, but I have a friend who is a muse, and I am grateful to them!
Thank you my dear! I hope you see this and know it is you.