– by Albert Berkshire
I am running through the woods. I have left the comforts of conformity and normalcy and safety and reason well behind me. Despite the pressure to accept them as society would like me, I am happy to have left them in my rear view. I never liked them that much. Still, I didn’t sign up for this race. I just happened to find myself in it. Like everyone else, I am racing against myself. Though I fear many of them fail to understand that, nor see the logic in its reality. There is no reward that I believe awaits me. No grand prize. No bragging rights that interest me. I seek only more of what I have already found.
The pace is quickening, as is my heart rate. My mind is racing at the same rate as my heart. Random things rush into my head. Memories of things good and things bad are filling my head. They scare me as much as they make me more determined to continue forward. Past glories, moments endured or delighted in, revelry – though I find the word carousal to be more to my liking. They all matter, whether I want them to or not. They resonate in rhythm with my feet. Take the good and the bad in stride, I think to myself.
I’ve gained elevation. Why any of us choose to flee in an uphill direction can only be explained by Hollywood screenwriters and the clinically insane. I can’t determine who would offer the more believable explanation. The air is starting to feel cooler. It is little relief in this race. As I gain elevation, the air, inevitably, thins. I start to slow. I am beginning to tire. I convince myself I have to press on. Giving in, giving up is not an option that I am willing to choose. Push harder. Find more. Do not get caught.
Obstacles appear in front of me. Life is throwing hurdles in my direction. I’ve been in this situation once before and made the mistake of giving in to the challenge. I won’t make that mistake again. I know from experience you just have to go over them as quickly as humanly possible. Life isn’t going to give you more time. Circling back and around is too time consuming, and time is not a friendly travel partner. I press on…over.
Breath hits the back of my neck. It can’t be mine, despite the pace at which I now race. I hope it is just mine swirling around my neck, but it isn’t. I look over my shoulder for the first time. She is close. Gaining on me. I can’t let her catch me. It would be the end of me. And so I push harder.
As I break above the tree line, the terrain levels off. I have hit my stride. My second wind has found me. I can see the place I want to be. Figures await in the distance. It is still far off, so I lean toward the finish. I can hear heavy breathing behind me, but it is no longer against my neck.
Regret is exhausted. And I got to the top of the hill ahead of her…again.
Ski off bigger cliffs. Paddle in Thailand. Offer my feet to Garra Rufa fish. Sleep beside the Colorado River. Hike in Arches National Park. Photograph The Three Wise Men for my mother. Ride Missoula, Moab and Fruita. Crew for friends at the Leadville 100. Go back to the Asulkan Trail. Spend a week on the Oregon coast. Stand on the beach where one of my fictional characters loved to stand. Race, and finish, an enduro mountain bike race. Ride the Staten Island Ferry. Stroll through Greenwich Village. Walk across the Brooklyn bridge. Share dinners with friends. Drink at a Speak Easy. Eat breakfast alone, often. Travel for the sake of being present. Show up unexpectedly at parties because I could be there. Party with friends at the CN Tower. Go to the Vanier Cup, the 100th Grey Cup, and the Hockey Hall of Fame. Thank a soldier. Get caught up with Joe. Say a proper goodbye to Harold. Make a new friend. Share Rumi. Come to appreciate everything I have, everywhere. Apologize. Make peace. Give. Say no to the things that are wrong and yes to the things that are right. Make a promise I will keep. Stare at the lights on the trees. Stroll for no reason other than to linger…longer. Have honest conversations. Come to understand. Find out for certain.
It was a good year for the Bucket List.
In your face, Regret.
Personal Note: This will be my last article for a little while. Everyone needs a break from what they do, and who they are. And I have one more thing to cross off my list before time catches up with me. Unlike Regret, Time is relentless. I made a promise that I would do something important. It’s best that I go do it. I’ll be back before you can count to eleven.
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there. – Rumi, 13th Century.
Albert Berkshire is a writer, producer and voice actor. With regularity, he finds himself in the strangest situations, for the strangest reasons, doing the strangest things. But it always makes for a great story…even if he’s the only one who understands its meaning. Making other people’s stories interesting has helped make his company, GreatCreative.Com, successful. For a much shorter, and less frequent rambling, follow Albert on Twitter @albertberkshire.