This story is shared by Alexandra Reynolds
There’s a nature trail in Mt. Tamalpais that I consider to be my favorite trail. It’s not the most beautiful trail I’ve walked through, but walking through it reminds me of my own path in life. The trail begins at the top the mountain with a full view of the Muir Wood forest below. As far as your eyes can see, Hawks circle and soar above the forest. The picturesque scene is topped off by a spectacular view of Stinson beach surrounding the mountain in the far distance. The walk down to the forest canyon is long and winding. The sun weaves in and out of the path. And when you least expect it you have come to a crossroad, pointing to another trail. I am faced with the decision; continue down the winding path that leads to the cool center of the forest. Or take the hike up my favorite trail. I choose the hike up because I know the scenic wonders that await me. But after the most grueling hike up in the blazing heat, I take a moment to rest on a large rock that sits in the sun and shade.
I take a moment to look back at the path that is now behind me. I am proud of myself for making it this far up the trail. I stop to appreciate that this rock is here for me to rest on at just right time, when I needed it most. I take a look at the path ahead of me and wonder to myself, do I have the strength to make it up the rest of the hike. Maybe I should just turn around and go back down the trail. But somehow that choice makes all my effort seem like a waste. So, I decide to drink a lot of water and give myself a pep talk and take one step towards the path ahead of me. I keep reminding myself of the magical view that is just around the corner. I stop every once in a while, long enough to look back and acknowledge how far I’ve come.
I sometimes can hear other hikers traveling up ahead of me or behind me, on my favorite trail. I acknowledge that there will be a point in the trail where we will all pass each other, either hiking up or down the trial. Those hikers coasting down the trial always offer encouragement to those of us hiking up the trail. Sometimes that’s all it takes. My path leads me to a little bridge that crosses over the rushing water below. There, I stop for a moment to quiet my thoughts long enough to appreciate the beauty of Mother Earth. I bask in the peacefulness of nature. And it’s always when I have set aside the focus of my destination that I find myself at the top of another mountain. From this mountain, I can see my path clearly. I can see from where I began and all that I have traveled. And I stop for a moment to reflect on the fact that the path I am on will circle back to where I started. I will have come full circle.