After my mental (and partially physical) breakdown last summer, I made a decision that I wanted to live my life on my own terms. Free from the teeter-totter of my brain’s chemical imbalance, I’ve been able to achieve more than I thought possible in the last year. Naturally, that means it’s time to push myself even more.
I’ve got goals, folks, and those goals don’t really boil down to wasting my entire life working all the time, giving my energy to companies that would replace me in a hot second if I bit the dust. I mean, of course I WILL work, because I like having a place to live and groceries are important. What I mean is, thanks to my nightly dose of happy pills (and the subsequent serotonin that lingers in the ol’ noggin), I finally recognize that my time on this earth is worth something to me. I actually give a shit what I do with it. And when I’m on my deathbed, surrounded by cats who are probably going to eat my face before I get too cold, I don’t want to look back and go, “FUCK. I wish I’d done more.”
I think about death a lot. Not in a morbid way (anymore), but more of as a vague deadline. My father’s death really rattled my cage as a kid and ever since then I’ve been hyper-aware of the brevity of life. And coming out of severe depression is almost like a rebirth in itself because that person who didn’t want to think or feel or be alive isn’t who I really am. I didn’t have the energy to do much of anything before, but now that I’m able to get out of bed in the morning without having to mentally prepare myself, my intention is to grab life right by the balls and swing it around a bit. Because life is short. Too short.
The excuses I had before for not doing shit just don’t hold up in court anymore. Want to travel. That’s expensive. Who will cover my shifts? Can’t take time off. Too risky. How about, save the money, book off the time, and go? Job won’t give you time off? Then save the money, book the trip, AND QUIT THAT HORRIFIC JOB. Want to go skydiving. Nah, I’m too heavy for the guidelines. So exercise. Eat healthy shit. Or go indoor skydiving where they have an option for us chunky folks. Too expensive. WE’VE BEEN OVER THIS, SAVE THE MONEY AND DO THE THING. What’s the point of having a job if you don’t dedicate some of those earnings to having the time of your life?! What’s the point of being alive if you’re not actually living? These are the things I’ve been yelling at myself during this year of metamorphosis.
So I’m making a bucket list. I, like everyone, have a disorganized mental list of things I’d really like to do before my spirit is digitized into the cloud or whatever. But I want a real, tangible list. Small stuff, big stuff, whatever stuff – I just want it where I can see it. And tick it off. Last summer, I was in the depths of depression and I could barely walk because of my foot problems. This summer, I’m getting off my ass and doing the things I’ve been longing to do. And hopefully some things I’ve never even dreamed of doing.
And with the nice weather FINALLY here, I’ve already gotten started. My ride-or-die best friend in the entire frickin’ universe, Steph, messaged me last weekend about possibly going on a hike on Tuesday. She’s mentioned showing me Crawford Lake in Milton a few times now, and since you can bet this ass hasn’t been on a hiking trail in the last couple decades, I was completely on board. I woke up early on Tuesday, made myself a gigantic bowl of oatmeal, packed my backpack, and met her downstairs. We drove to the park and headed off down the trail and before I knew it, I was surrounded by trees.
I love trees. I love the woods. I love being outside and having the sun on my face and the wind in what’s left of my hair. And even more than that, I love taking a walk with a good friend and talking our heads off. I mean, I’ve got shit happening in my life, she’s got shit happening in her life, and walking in the woods while talking about your life stuff really heals the soul. Having people around you who can help push you to do more and go farther than you thought possible while also understanding you is SO FUCKING KEY. I’ve been lucky in my life to have a few incredible people cross my path, and Steph is definitely one of them. It never even occurred to me to just randomly hit up a trail in the middle of a weekday but because of her I had a fantastic time AND crossed something off my bucket list I didn’t even know was there.
The first thing we saw along the trail was the remnants of what I assume used to be a house. Don’t bother telling me it’s not, because I’ve already invented a backstory for the witch who used to live inside it, venturing out to gather herbs and ingredients for her spells. I stepped off the trail to climb over some trees and stand inside the crumbled walls so I could take some photographs.
I think my favorite part of our adventure was just before we decided to turn around and head back. I was sweating like a pig, my face was a hundred different shades of red, sweat was running down my back, but we had come to a vast and breathtaking ridge. We saw a couple of eagles (or was it hawks? I don’t know, I’m not an ornithologist) flying around so we stopped to catch our breath, and then I saw the perfect spot to get perilously close to the edge of the dropoff.
Steph is terrified of heights so as I picked my way over some rocks and trees, she yelled at me to be careful. I was careful, but I also really wanted to see how close I could get before fear and self-preservation took over.
My heart began to race as I drew nearer to the edge, and at this point my friend was practically caterwauling so I decided to sit down and move slightly closer. I dangled my foot over the edge and looked out over the expansive forest.
On the way back, I managed to step in two mud puddles and Steph nearly ate shit slipping on a downed tree (I still don’t know how she managed to stay upright, unless there really ARE faeries in the woods and they caught her under the arms or something), but the trip back was just as beautiful as the trip there.
So what have I learned from my first hike through the forest?
Sometimes to clear your mind, you just need to fuck off into the woods for a while.