As I feel the chilly November breeze from the North Shore of Lake Superior, I believe that the wonder and awe of nature can get me through anything in my life. I dwell on the anxiety I was feeling on the three-hour car ride north from the Twin Cities to Gooseberry State Park and the horrible feeling in my stomach, which I have been calling the “icky butterflies” since I was a little girl.
These are the questions going through my mind: Will I ever find a decent man? How can I bring a man home when my roommate has a way better body and much cuter than I? What’s the point in running so much if I can’t get rid of this role of fat on my stomach? Why did Dennis dump me? Is it because he’s smarter than I am? Is having a Master’s Degree good enough? How could I afford a PhD? What if I get laid off in this economy? Oh God, what if I get laid off? Why do I feel so lonely? Why didn’t I pack warmer clothes? Aren’t 30-year olds supposed to have things figured out by now? Why do I feel like I’m going out of my mind?
I miss my dad on that car ride. “Why did he have to be taken away from me at 18 years of age?” I wonder what he would look like. I wonder if my Grandma would be happier if he was around. I wonder what my late teens would have been like with out the feeling of grief and loss. Would I have had more friends? Would I have finished school earlier and started on my career sooner?
When I arrive, my unease in the parking lot is not much better. I see all the dogs, families, and significant others and realize I’m going to be the freak hiking alone.
As I get on the path I hear nothing but the crunching of the recently fallen leaves on the path. The silence and stillness of the woods clears my head. I begin to realize that I am not alone. Red squirrels and chickadees are all around me. I notice a beaver’s den in the river besides my trail and I wonder what is going on beneath the wood. I no longer feel alone. I no longer despise my body, as it is what is carrying me through this beautiful place. I feel a part of something so much bigger than myself. My anxieties begin to feel so small.
As sit on the shore searching for agates, I see families doing the same in the distance and I feel an overwhelming sense of pride in myself for making this trip alone, for knowing how to take care of myself. I feel the presence of my father, as he is the one who taught me this sense of connection to nature and the faultless continuation of everything around me.
I contemplate what created all this around me. I come to the realization that I do not need to know. I’m not supposed to have things figured out. Much like my life. My “icky butterflies” have completely left me and I now feel a sense of serenity. I know in my heart that current of nature will always allow me to continuously grow emotionally and spiritually. With this realization, I believe that I can role with the difficulties of life much like the rocks in the waves on the shore where I sit.
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