Imagine that you are hiking a trail in the middle of Red River Gorge. You have been hiking for quite some time and haven’t seen a soul. Fifty yards off the trail, you see the edge of a mountain with an unbelievable view. It’s not that far; you can see the perfect place to stand.
Step by step, you leave the trail and trek the 50 yards of uncut wilderness toward the perfect spot where timeless looking trees span the horizon for as far as you can see. There’s a creek at the bottom of the ridge, and it reminds you that you are thirsty.
As you reach for your bag, your right foot slips and you slide for what you fear will be forever. Forever turns out to be a quick 20 foot slide.
“That could have been worse.”
As you look up, nothing looks familiar. Actually, everything looks familiar because it all looks the same. Even as you weave your way back up to the top, the trail has blended in with everything else and has disappeared no matter which direction that you head. Panic and regret set in.
“I never should have left the trail. I knew better.”
Each step of your wandering brings a new wave of regret and thoughts of what you should have done.
What would happen if, at this moment, you let go of the ideas about what you should have done and should not have done. The reality is, you are here and you need to find the way home. It doesn’t matter if you shouldn’t have left the trail. That decision was made already. Take what you’ve learned from that experience and ask the question, “What do I do now?”
Whats’s the way forward? Looking back and wishing things were different will not get you there. Alternate paths, alternate choices, and alternate lives are just thoughts. They are mirages that keep you from realizing the fact that this life, in this moment, is what you have. So what are you going to do now?
It is important to learn from your mistakes but then move on with that knowledge and experience. There will never be another life than the one that you are in right now. Wondering about “what if” will lead you wandering about in a world of mirages.
Do you spend time looking back at all the different choices that you’ve made? We have all been in situations where we’ve been turned around by life or some stupid choice of our own. You are here. What have you learned? What are you going to do now?
Eric Overby lives in Russell County. You can find his poetry on Amazon and more of his writings on Instagram @mindful_stoic_poet.