Last week, I decided to walk down to an abandoned tower in the middle of the woods (the blog I wrote about this little adventure is called ‘Going Out on Location’). I went after school and before I had my group therapy session and on my long trek, where I felt that I was unbelievably lost and alone, I decided that I needed to write this blog about the personal experience and not just the funny one.
So I decided to make this little photographic adventure on a whim. I had my cameras in the car and I just wanted to photograph something. When I feel really down, I always like to photograph broken buildings and lost belongings of what once was (for this blog, you can read, ‘Abandoned Photography is What I do’). So I made the decision because I felt like I was getting to a bad place and I needed to use therapeutic skills to get me out of this spiral so I went on this little adventure and I learned some things on my way.
When I parked my car, I felt apprehensive because I was alone in the woods and I know this is how scary movies happen but I wanted to go and I am extremely stubborn. I didn’t care about the consequences of my actions; I just went.
The gravel path that met my feet, was filled with jagged rocks along the way. Some rocks were smooth but most of them were awkward and sharp and I was only protected with a thin layer of cushion from my old sandals. There was a lot of rocks and it didn’t help my feet. My feet were sore and hurting but I pressed on determined to get to this abandoned tower; needing this opportunity to photograph.
As I walked, I noticed that I was never aware at the beautiful nature and wildlife refuge that I was walking through because I was too focused on the pain in my feet. As I walked down the path, I kept looking behind me, waiting for someone to attack because I am paranoid like that and I kept looking back at my car as my safety net, my safe place.
I kept walking and walked through the pain and ended up in a more secluded part of the woods; I could no longer see my car nor the tower that I was seeking. I saw a couple up ahead and wondered if they were safe enough to talk to because of my immense trust issues but they pointed me in the direction of the tower. The couple also told me of a cemetery that was also on the property and how to get there.
The exhilaration took over my body and I kept pressing forward; I couldn’t wait to see this abandoned building and now I had a cemetery to explore. As I approached the tower, I could smell the smoke and it choked the breath out of my lungs. The tower had been burned down the weekend before and there was nothing left. I could feel my body drop in disappointment but I still made the most of the experience and I took photographs of the wood still burning, even days later.
After a few shots, I went in, what I thought was the direction, of the cemetery but because I am still having concussion symptoms, I was all turned around and headed down the wrong path. I went to the right. I went to the right and ended up in ankle-deep mud. I lost a sandal and pulled it out of the sticky and wet substance. Looking at my feet, I realized sneakers would have been a better choice.
As I turned around, I went down another path. The dead grass made it feel like knives were stabbing my toes and feet. The bugs were hitting me left and right and I was unable to dodge them; mosquitos and grasshoppers were running rampant and it felt I was living the Book of Revelations in the Bible. I looked down at my feet when I really felt the dead grass slice me like a sharp blade. As I looked, I saw, one muddy foot and one bloody foot.
Literally, the furthest from my car, I stopped in the middle of the path and wondered how I was going to do this; I wanted to call my husband and have him rescue me but then I realized that no one really knows where I am. I finally found my way back to the smoldering tower to realize where the cemetery actually was and I was beating myself over the fact that I had walked a whole mile out of the way because I couldn’t remember the directions. I was so angry and pissed off because I didn’t have time to explore the area before therapy. I was kind of lost and broken… literally because there was blood on my feet; but I had to keep going or I would be late for my appointment.
However, all I could think about was this missed opportunity, my gross feet and the hundreds of mosquito bites I currently had. What a disappointment.
I traveled back the same gravel road that I started on, but this time, I looked around and captured better shots of the nature that was around me and the nature that I missed the first time. The same gravel road that pierced my feet felt better this time around; like it was more smooth but it shouldn’t have been. And looking ahead, I could see the refuge of my car… that was awesome.
So why did I make you read all this? It’s because this is what I gathered from that day:
We all have a safe place; a place that is our own that we don’t want anyone to know about. A place that we are scared to leave when life gets hard, but if we don’t get out, then we will never experience life.
The gravel path that I walked on was full of uncertainty and I was unsure if I could even make this trek alone and even though it hurt, I kept pressing on but the pain bothered me so much that I ended up missing the birds singing, the rustling of the trees and the nature changing around me during this fall season.
The abandoned tower was my mission and it was what I wanted and part of what I thought I needed to survive that day. However, when I got there, everything was gone so was it what I wanted or was it what I needed? Maybe I just wanted the experience but perhaps I could have used another therapeutic skill to get me through the day? The disappointment is just like life- full of disappointments but also full of different opportunities than the ones we first seek.
The couple that gave me directions was a sign that I should be more trusting of others even though along the beaten path people let you down. However, nothing is worse than letting yourself down and you always will if you don’t learn to trust others or more importantly, yourself.
Being turned around and not remembering where the cemetery location was, represented to me, the long walk in life. We all get turned around and lost on our way through life; it’s part of learning and if we are patient enough, we will understand the lessons that life is teaching us; no matter how hard they may be.
The mud was just that. Some days, I sink and I sink hard but that day I got out and when I got out, I was cut with blades of grass that made me bleed. Both are gross but it doesn’t mean you are dying; it just means you need to find a better path.
Figuring out that I was all alone in the furthest spot possible was a wake up call. I realized how much I depended on other people to help me when in all honesty, I can help myself. Did I need to reach out or did I want to reach out to my family and others? Was this really a crisis that anyone else could pull me from? Life is all about hitting rock bottom before you make your way out and this was a perfect example of hitting rock bottom and looking for ways to climb out because no one was going to get me out; I needed to get me out.
Walking back down the path to my car, I realized that I missed all of the beautiful life around me and it wasn’t until I stopped and realized how much I missed, that I discovered that this could have been just a beautiful walk. No goal but only to be a part of nature and I missed it; however, I learned that after all of the hardships and all of the trials and tribulations, that the walk home is that much easier and sweeter because you did it yourself and you survived. And the mosquito bites, are still all over my arms but it’s just a reminder of that day. They are like our scars. Everything fades but it’s not forgotten… it just means we are stronger because of it.
Until next time,
Always pack sneakers and never be afraid to step out of that safe place and live.