The Path

  I was less than 5 when my father loaded me into the white car with black trim and drove me to a piece of land on the next road over from where we lived. Although he had never shown much emotion, I sensed the excitement coursing through his veins that day. He pointed at the field that had a few small pine trees in it and said, “We’re going to build a house here.”

  Since 5-year-olds don’t usually comprehend the enormity of life-changing things like that, I smiled and asked if I could play in the field on the hill. He granted me my wish, and I sprinted over rocks and slithered through the tall grass, not knowing that I would learn many facts about life on that same piece of land — a piece that I still return to almost daily.

  A few years after exploring that piece of land, I found myself lying my head on my pillow every night just a short distance down the hill from where Dad had made a path. Although I didn’t walk on it often, I watched from the backyard and wondered what drew him to it every day. Instead of exploring the reasons, I continued throwing rocks into the air and hitting them with sticks that I fetched from the side yard.

  Standing in the driveway, I went through the lineups every night. The visiting Red Sox would begin the game with Jerry Remy leading off, hopefully setting the table for the likes of Fred Lynn, Jim Rice, Dwight Evans, Butch Hobson, Rick Burleson, Carlton Fisk and Yaz.  If the rock didn’t clear the road in front of the house, it was an out. If it towered over the trees and power lines, it was a home run. Of course, the line shots were singles or doubles and anything else was an out.

  After the Red Sox batted, the Yankees would come to bat. Mickey Rivers would usually lead off with a double down the line. Willie Randolph would follow him and move him over to third on a sac fly or a bunt. Then, the heart of the order would come up, with Thurman Munson, Reggie Jackson, Craig Nettles, Chris Chambliss, Roy White, Bobby Murcer and Oscar Gamble, depending on who was in the starting lineup that day.

  I would stand on the hill and hit one rock after another for hours on end. I never got sick of it and would do it until my hands bled. A state trooper even stopped one day to tell me I had to clean the rocks out of the road. When Mom called me to come in at night, I would glance up the hill and see Dad walking back and forth on his well-used path — the path that led to nowhere. As much as I loved hitting the rocks and participating in Yankees/Sox classics in my driveway, the path beckoned me to explore it, ever so slowly reaching out to me and motioning with an invisible index finger as if to say, “Come this way.”

                                           The Decision to Follow

  As the days passed, I trudged up the hill while Dad walked back and forth on the path. When he would return to the end where I was waiting, I would stand behind him and get lost in the mystique of everything going on around me. The silence was deafening and brought a tremendous sense of peace with it. Lost in time, my mind became quiet. It was completely aware of everything around it, but it was focused — and at peace. 

  Walking down the hill to the house that night, something inside me told me to take the chance. It whispered into my ear, “It’s okay to follow. Stroll down the path and see what’s there.”

  I listened and took a chance. Before I knew it, I was enjoying myself in the backyard. The path wasn’t very long, but my attention span was so short I couldn’t remain focused long enough to walk on it like Dad. I enjoyed feeling the soles of my boots against the barren ground, but it didn’t captivate me enough to make me want to return very often.

                       Returning After Being Away for a Few Years

  As my teen years led me toward the entrance into the adult world, I found myself on that path regularly. I went there to search for answers — answers that I could not find in normal places. The path quickly gave me confidence and inner-strength. My visions about life become much clearer.

  Then, one day, everything came crashing down around me. I brought something up the hill with me without having permission to do so. It was one of my father’s cherished items. While walking back and forth on his path — which had become our path – I broke the item.

  Heartbroken and in tears, I sat in the grass and sobbed. I knew how much this thing meant to my father, and I knew that I had let him down. I had not been responsible, and my parents had always taught me to be responsible for my actions.

  After telling Mom what had happened, I chewed my fingernails off while waiting for Dad to get home. She told me I would have to explain to him what had happened. As soon as I saw him walk through the door, I started crying as I blurted out the story. 

  He never raised his voice or broke his expression. When I finished, he took my head into his chest and told me that everything was going to be okay. He explained that sometimes mistakes happen and we need to make sure we do everything we can to keep from making easily avoidable mistakes. In the background, Mom’s lips creased together as a smile formed on her lips.

                                            Enjoying the Journey

  Many years have passed since those early days on that path. Although I still walk along it now and then, I have made a few of my own. But that original path I walked so many miles on has brought me across the country and allowed me to achieve the highest of highs and experience the lowest of lows.

 Now, like when I was younger, I walk the path to achieve internal peace. My mind remains calm when I’m at the beginning of it and remains there until I decide to step aside and focus on other things. I’ve walked on it to combat anger. I’ve gone there to find understanding and reason. I’ve shuffled back and forth in hopes of achieving goals. It has brought many new things and people into my life. Some of these people have become lifelong friends, and others I only knew for a short time. I carved out the path to become my own. We all have a place in this world if we can find our way to it. Start walking now and enjoy the journey on your own path — your feet will bring you to where you belong.



One Response to “The Path”

  1. Mike Homan says:

    Great writing Todd!

Leave a Reply