I met a man today. Actually I knew this man…or at least I met him one day some many years ago. Today I came to know him.
It was around 14 years or so ago that our paths crossed. We met on a trail, on a hike, both strangers yet so much the same. He had a desire that day to hike this trail to the end. It was said that the trail led to a secluded cove and a hidden beach. Nobody ever went there and it was always welcoming and unpopulated. I too was on this trail and seeking the same destination, following the same spoken rumor. I was intrigued at this legendary beach and it’s alleged splendor.
I never made it to this hidden spot. This man had the desire but lacked the determination to make the full length of the journey. For him, it was more of a challenge to hike this distance than he was willfully ready to commit to. His reasoning not to continue was fair I suppose. Or at least I felt enough empathy that I decided to alter my own course and accompany him, that day, back down the trail, back to the beginning never to reach the end.
For almost 14 years I have wondered from time to time where that trail actually led. I have pondered what lied at the end. I have visualized in my mind many times what that secluded beach in that hidden cove may have looked like, and how I would have felt that day on that beach, to myself with nobody around. And I have looked back to that encounter with that man on that trail. He was strong, in his prime, confident so it seemed yet he lacked something. That 'something', prevented him from ever reaching his destination that day. I have wondered through the years what he would have felt had he made it to the end, and more so what he has felt, if anything, that he gave up.
Today, I found myself, nearly 14 years later, on that trail again. Today I did what it was that I set out 14 years ago to do but never quite accomplished due to circumstances that prevailed that day. I followed this trail to that legendary beach in that hidden cove and discovered what I missed before. Actually I discovered a couple of things there. I discovered that if that man 14 years ago on that trail would have walked another 100 yards or less, he would have been at that beach in that hidden cove! What he didn’t realize that day was that although he couldn’t hear the surf in the distance, it lied only a mere walk ahead, the sound of the surf blocked by the ridge of sand between the water and the trail. I also discovered that this man was standing there, at the end of the trail today! Apparently he as well had wondered for many years what that walk on that trail would have led to. The fact that he never continued forward that day was apparently enough through the years to vex him into wanting to face the trail once more.
Now, years later, older, a little slower, much more wise and seasoned with life experiences, he came back to this trail to seek out the 14 year answer to a question he never satisfied. As we stood there today, we were both perplexed! The trail it seems has gained some popularity through the years because the beach was far from being empty and secluded as people lay about the sand, surfed, and enjoyed the sun. We never waded across the lagoon that separated us from the end of the trail and the beach and surf. Not that we couldn’t have waded through the calm water where the creek met the ocean waves, not necessarily that we didn’t want to! Instead we chose to just stand there, ponder and silently tout the days accomplishment!
He shared something with me on that walk today. Simply, had he known then what he knew now….he wouldn’t have changed a thing! I suppose that logic may dictate that, had the circumstances in his life been different he may have made that journey 14 years ago, to where it was that he stood today. But had circumstance been different then, he may have not stood where he stood today, and may have never shared nor realized his wisdom of “today”.
Today I completed the walk I started to take 14 years ago. I was bummed really at what I found yet very excited at the affirmation of my own personal experiences in life. I affirmed that I don’t regret what I didn’t do, because had I done it, it may have changed the fiber that culminated the series of events that made me who I am and put me where I am today! Life is a series of decisions and choices, some good, some bad, but all part of a culmination of who I am today. I wouldn’t have changed a thing!
At the time I felt empathy for this man and altered my course that day to accompany him back. As I walked down that trail today to that hidden beach, I wondered how it was he couldn’t make it that day, how it was that he wouldn’t want to. After meeting him at the trails end today, at that dead end in the lagoon that separated us from Shangri-La, my wonder had faded. I understood that there was a reason, and that reason helped to make him the man who he is today. Standing there, he shook his head in disbelief….”had I just walked another 100 yards that day” he said. “Had I only realized…”! “ But had I the will that day, we would have never met here today….” “How different life may have been?” I personally parted company from him and that beach today, happy as hell with who I am and how far I have gone. That I chose not to go the extra few yards that day....I wouldn’t have changed a thing.