He stretches his arm, re-placing the central photo, back against the now empty wall… It hung there, quietly and slightly off center causing it to tilt to the right revealing the more vibrant color behind, untouched by the sun. He stared, for what seemed hours as if making eye contact with each person in the photo. Those faces… The faces of those he loved so deeply… The same faces that once adorned this wall that seemed to tower lonesomely to the sky now. Once a vibrant shade of or orange, draping around each frame…
I cannot describe to you in full the emptiness felt when this wall is in full view. Each spot, now empty but the one. Each hole marked, as if with a place-holder, by the faded paint around it. Each spot… is a memory… has a name… is missed…
He steps back to view it all more widely, and as if to imagine, he squints his eyes tightly – a myriad of images stroll slowly in his thoughts, some he had forgotten, misplaced till this very moment… now realizing ‘loss’ stood in their place. Tears began to form again, and were beginning to fill the corners of his eyes.
Amidst the valley of treacherous terrain, one when faced with immense challenge has one of three choices to make.
1) He can decide to turn back, that the way he has already been is the only true and safe way out of the shadowy valley he is now in. He knows the way already. I can only imagine a man in this position fells it only wise to to retrace his steps… retreat as it may be, the return to what he has known feels safer even though he will be returning to where he as already been. No progress made. He is no further in than out, but further on appears too challenging. So, he returns.
2) He can ‘not-decide’. Setting up camp on the spot where he stands, seeing it safer to rest and determine what to do at a later point how he will continue on. He postpones. Neither here, not there in choosing what to do. He has chosen not to choose, and rather to be stuck in-between – At this point he may determine either… but… the longer he waits the more dangerous the trek ahead seems… and the more he longs for the safety of his previous camp site still sitting at the entrance of the valley pass. Eventually he may even determine to stay exactly where he is, ‘in-between’ regression and progress.
3) He takes a deep breath, and without ever stopping – takes note of the suns position and increases his pace to an almost sprint. He has determined to make the second half of his journey more efficiently and in a shorter time than the first half.
His eyes open wide, refocusing on the photo that still remains, the rhythm of his heart steadies as he reaches to quickly wipe the half-formed tear before it could fall. He, with a firm voice, seemingly unshaken if you were to hear him, said, “I CHOOSE TO CONTINUE ON.”
With those words still attached to his breath, he began looking about again, this time not despairing, but assessing.
Stepping towards the nearest crumpled photo, he realizes for the first time he is barefoot with small scrapes covering his feet and a few deeper cuts. He sits down. Looks around and sees his shoes are just slightly behind him, as if thrown in the previous tantrum along with the photos.
Once, I saw a man who feared drowning. His arms and legs beating the water, as if to punish it for treating his life. Blinded by the fear he did not see in the struggle how close he was to a mound of rocks that rose just above the water’s surface. Until his chest collided with it, cutting deep and fracturing ribs. Another wave rushed in as a bully, further shoving him onto the heaping of stones. Unconscious, but above water he laid there motionless.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ to be continued