(A photo I took on one of my solo hikes.)
It has been a while, okay a long while since I've blogged. I guess I was (and still sort of am) on a bit of sojourn. I don't apologize, though, because it was a much needed rest period. I needed to go home. I needed to process all that went on there. I needed to re-learn how to live alone again (The New Chapter is still away for work). I needed to relax to the point where I could sit at my kitchen table and only hear the hum of the refrigerator and the beat of my heart (This did literally happen. I'm not just being poetic nor was I having a heart attack-- it was just that quiet). I haven't had the chance to relax this deeply and be this quiet since I lived in that barn in that teeny-tiny, middle-of-nowhere-Montana town where I got my start as an adult. This quiet, alone time has been delightful. I feel like me again, and am revisiting the things that make me. It feels good.
In some ways I feel bad because I have let myself slip off the face of my social, every-day world, and some of my friends are worried. I haven't gotten that excited about starting school yet, unlike some of them. I declined an invitation to go with a friend on her family vacation to one of my most favorite places (the Highline Trail in Glacier National Park). I haven't picked up very many phone calls. I haven't invited anyone to go on the many hikes I've tried or invited anyone to do much of anything for that matter. I've just been in the process of being and remembering how to be. I assure you that there is no need for alarm. I'm quite happy and have been doing lots of hiking, organizing around the house, gardening, reading, and the like. I'm far from being depressed. I guess you could say that I'm just getting back to the basics of who I am and will be a much better for taking the time to do it.
I have also been processing a lot of things that have happened in the past year or two, and my best processing happens in solitude and silence. I'm pleased to report that my family is doing really well-- My brother is moved into his new house post-tornado, and my parents should be in theirs by the end of August. In other words, my family is really close to achieving their "new normal" daily routine, which is a HUGE sigh of relief for us all. My family is not alone in finding its new normal. My hometown is also doing really well. The progress I saw on this trip and the general emotional atmosphere is nearly resurrected from the rubble. Although, just as The New Chapter and I were driving home, we received word that our beloved teacher and football coach was shot in the weight room in a drug-related shooting by a former player. The shooting has left all us all feeling a little numb again-- maybe even more numb than after the tornado last May.
In fact, I can honestly say that the passing of Coach Thomas has made me take a hard look at my own life, where I am at, and where I want to be. This self-evaluation has been the subject of much of my musings lately, and I have a feeling it has been on the minds of the many he touched. He was just that kind of guy. He made all of us want to continually strive to be the best we could be. Even in his death we can still hear him coaching us to do the right thing, work hard, give our best, keep pushing through, and to have pride and passion in all that we do. The words are so clear that in some ways his death doesn't even seem real. Although, I wasn't as close to him as many were, I've come to realize that because he helped lay the foundation for much of what my hometown stands for and my pride in Parkersburg, I am more affected by his passing than I thought. That says something about his character and might explain why so many from my hometown are feeling even more numb now than after the tornado hit last May. The whole thing is a lot to process.
But, I can say with confidence that we will all rise up again and be better than we were before; he would expect nothing less of us. The ironic thing is that for a good chunk of us, it will be his mantras, or a variation of them, that will help us through this rough patch just like they helped us in the classroom, on the football field, during those tough times we faced in our adult lives, through the aftermath of the tornado... His mantras helped us then, and they will help us again as long we don't forget what he taught us and remember to pass them on--there truly would be no better memorial for a man who touched so many.
So in my effort to be my best me, and to pay tribute to such a great man and to my Parkersburg roots, I am in quiet solitude thinking about how I can and what i will do to achieve my goal. I'm finding that for some areas in my life, I have to go back quite a ways to find the answer; it's amazing how time has a sneaky way of leading us off track. While in other areas, the answer lies in a hybrid of things from my distant past as well as from my more recent past. I just hope the conclusions I come to will reflect in the way I live, and I hope I can find and embrace the chances I have to pass on some of the mantras that were given to me from my roots and have helped me get to where I am today.