Apple Orchard Mountain, Appalachian Trail; Virginia.
After completing a moderately difficult hike on the boulder strewn trail, I am perched on a rock outcropping overlooking the Shenandoah Valley. My view is unique in that I am above a sinister mass of swirling and darkening clouds approaching from the west that seem hell bent on slamming into the side of the mountain determined to cross over and wreak havoc on the East coast.
I crouch down and take a bite of my apple as the churning storm, shoved by a strong wind, lurches forward and crashes headlong into the granite face of the ancient Appalachians. The immovable object confronts the irresistible force and causes it to spin into a menacing eddy of white, gray and black. The air currents increase and further irritate the clouds; making them boil and change shape. Heavy with moisture, the cloud bank cannot overcome the barrier in front of it and the tempest grows larger and seemingly, angrier.
I can’t possibly know what straw breaks the camels’ back as regards the precise moment when a cloud begins to release its contents, but the one below me has reached its breaking point and the rain begins to fall with a vengeance. I hunker down and draw the hood of my rain suit tight around my neck; the air around me dense with wetness now as a cool mist creeps ever upward and surrounds me. Soon I am a part of the rain storm and no longer simply an observer.
To many, I am sure my staying put would be considered very peculiar rather than deciding to seek shelter, but I have long since passed my own point of break over regarding what others expect of me or what they might do in similar circumstance. In my travels, within and without, I have come to understand and accept that these are the moments where thoughts and feelings seem to avail themselves beyond what is typical if the choice is made to break routine and do what is not commonplace. In fact I am sure that each of us has an internal compass that is unique. And as the storm rumbles past it reminds me of some lyrics to a song I penned some time back that ‘who you are when you’re alone, is who you really are’. On days like this, those words ring so very true. I am convinced that is so for each of us.
So…the cloud? Not simply a cloud. The granite? Much more than stone. Therefore the rain, to my way of thinking becomes a result of the two dynamics and what must be sacrificed to break the stalemate. The amount of moisture liberated? Impossible for me to determine, but whatever the quantity, the cloud; once murky, misshapen and fully ominous, now grows lighter in both color and weight and begins to rise above its restriction.
Is a dark winter cloud angry? Are large white summer billows tranquil? The contents of either are the same; it is only the amount that is carried that varies. And each travels as it will on the wind until it is emancipated when acted upon by other forces or simply can no longer transport its burden.
In much the same way maybe we are cloud-like? Changing shape, we add the weight of the years contents and carry that bulk all too often and entirely too long for fear of losing control or missing out on what is foolishly envied in others. At some point, a moment is reached where a realization is epitomized that to move forward, to find true self-worth, the weight of unmet expectation and foolish pride must be relinquished. For if not, unnecessary time is wasted in an endless swirling eddy of doubt and insecurity.
The storm, once in front and beneath me, has dumped enough rain that it has crossed the divide and now continues its trek eastward, its color lighter, its mass higher in the sky, it’s load diminished. With its passing I decide it is time for me to continue my journey as well and renew my decision to travel lighter in this life for what I have learned today. To get where I want to be, I will shed some more ‘weight’ of my own and be happier for it. After all, it is a beautiful day for rain!!