Three years ago, in 2010, I started writing a series of short essays in my personal journal. I wanted to remember all the stories that were told to me by a dear friend, Old Man, who has since passed away. Within time, I started sharing the writings, on the phone, with my brother who lives in another state. He suggested I begin to compile them in a book so I could “leave a legacy” when I am gone. By June of 2012 the rough draft was coming together nicely. In fact, I was pleased with the direction, pleased with the content, and I was hoping to have it completed by July. Unfortunately, that did not happen.
At the beginning of July a series of events took place that produced an unpleasant confrontation that rippled down to several relationships. In the course of the melee relationships were damaged beyond repair, and all writing ceased.
Not the outcome I was looking for, but sometimes life is like that.
For the next three months my heart hurt. I swore I would never write again. The pain and grief I felt overshadowed any creativity, and drained me of my desire to write. That was until mid-September. I have a dear friend who had been editing my book for me. One Sunday she asked me how the writing was going, and that she hoped to begin to read what had been written so far. I told her not to hurry; the book was being scrapped.
She looked at me and simply asked,
“Who criticized you? It must have been someone close. I know it hurts, but now is not the time to stop. Keep pressing on. Write through the pain. Sometimes our best creative work comes from deep emotional pain. We will talk more at a later time, okay?”
It took a few days for her words to sink in, but when they did I realized the importance of what she had said. I began writing again. I started with a few poems, and eventually the creative juices started flowing. Within a couple of weeks I was able to reconnect with my book.
As I read through the opening paragraphs, and began to refresh my memory on what had been written so far, once again I was reminded that life is like climbing a mountain. Some days the view from the top is unlimited. I can see where I have been and where I am going. My walk is not labored, but a joy. While other days I have felt all alone. The pain in life was overwhelming; similar to a heavy misting fog that had settled in and would not move. It is on those days that bad decisions are made. Decision which lead to broken isolation.
If we are blessed we have a few individuals who come alongside of us and guide us on our mountain journey. They help break the pain of isolation with their guidance. Whether that guidance is verbal instruction or a silent steadfastness it does not matter. What does matter is their companionship, even when they are not seen.
For three months I hurt and felt isolated, but I knew I was not alone. My confidence in life had been changed, and I knew why. Old Man was part of the reason for that change. He had been my mentor, my fishing buddy, and at times a counselor. His own life experiences had taught him many things, and he shared those experiences, those stories, with me every morning over a cup of coffee.
For seven years it seemed like time stood still. I learned many life lessons from this man. He taught me when relationships seem derailed there is power in forgiveness. There is freedom in restoration, and that true joy comes when life is embraced as it is.
I would have enjoyed more time with this man, but time was limited. Yet, even with his death his stories reminded me of important life principles. For that I will be forever grateful.
Sometimes the greatest successes in life come as a result of deep emotional pain, or when there is blood on the mountain.
(Excerpt from Blood on the Mountain, by Misty Thomas ã 2012)