The energy of the mind is the essence of life. – Aristotle

The Path Less Taken

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First of all, this is a true story that is much more hilarious when told in person.

It was a cool evening near the Hudson River in New York.  The leaves had turned the colors of fall, and littered the ground like confetti from a party.  The three of us had decided on a stroll to view the river, and made our way to the entrance of the trail.  The leader of the pack and West Point cadet walked quickly and swiftly, as if marching to the tune of 60 beats per minute.  The asphalt trail sloped downward towards the river,  slowly disappearing under the leaves.

On the way down to the lowest point, the trail became rockier and damp.  In the last five minutes to the river it seemed that the trail had not been cleared in years as the pile of leaves became several inches thick.  We stopped at the ledge and sat on the bench for a few minutes.  The air became cooler and the sun began to sink behind the jagged landscape.  The three of us decided to head back.  The cadet scampered off keeping the same pace as before and slowly leaving us behind.

Time seemed to slow on the trek back.  The trail that before was a slow crawl downward, soon became steep and unmanageable.  I could feel the burn in my thighs and calves.  As the river disappeared behind us, the trail became rugged and uneven.  I could sense the sharpened surface of the rocks beneath the my feet, almost as if I was balancing myself on knife blades.  I tried to leap from stone to stone, but could not keep my balance.

The cadet had disappeared.  With every stride, my eyes were downward trying to distinguish ridged edge from the pebbles that would lead me sliding down the trail.  The worst part was not the serrated corners slicing the soles of my shoes, it was the fact that I could not distinguish the landscape until I stepped because of all of the beautiful leaves.

I felt a tug from behind.  The other hiker was holding on to my arm for balance, clenching on for her life.  I suddenly found myself struggling up the trail.  The once difficult road had become impossible.  Not only was I responsible for getting myself up alive, but also for the safety of the other hiker.  I chose every step carefully.  I took the more rigid path.  The pointed stones stabbed the centers of my feet.

I caught a glimpse of the cadet.  I felt the asphalt beneath my shoes again.  I was able to slow and catch my breath.  The other hiker let go in relief.

The moral of this story?  The good gets hard, and the hard gets tough.  And when it does, you don’t give up.  You only rest once you reach the top.



Author: Jess

Texan by birth, Okie by current address. Journalist who caught the travel bug. I have a healthy dachshund obsession and spend endless hours reading about world history on Wikipedia.

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