*This story takes place at the beginning of my "Return Of Saturn" (<click here)symbolizing the next important stage, a turning point in ones life where self growth and awareness take place.
AWAKENING ATOP MT. KATAHDIN
~An account of one man's experience as he reaches the summit~
September 18, 2012:
Today, is my 28th birthday and I have just walked over 2,000 miles. Breathing deeply, heart thumping from my chest as my life seems to be flashing before my eyes. How did I get here? All the events in my 27 years prior has been leading me to this moment atop the greatest mountain in Maine and the summit is only a few hundred feet away.
First, let me back up a bit...
Maine is where I grew up. In a quaint little town they call "The Friendly Village", where everyone knows your name, locals wave as they pass by and always greeting one another with a smile. Looking back, I see how fortunate I was to have been raised in such a wonderful space. A real sense of community and humanity is one lesson I have carried with me from my childhood and for that I am grateful.
As a boy, I had quite the imagination with an energy that most teachers were challenged with. I guess sharing, laughing, conversing and connecting with others has always moved me. My active little aura kept me outside most days, playing into the late evening until my folks had to yell for me to come inside. Camping, running through the woods, town tag and building forts were a pass time. A sense of adventure intrigued me and around the age of 10 my good friend John and I made a pact, to one day become United States Marines. From that moment on, I never even considered another option. In hindsight, I see the pact was a dream for us to expand our boyhood adventurous minds and continue to explore unknown landscapes as strong, capable, exemplary men. This dream would eventually become our reality and it would all begin to happen so quickly...
At the speed of life, High School flew by as we surely made the best of those years and before I knew it, a greyhound bus was taking me to Paris Island where "Marines are born." My enlistment wasn't for freedom, it wasn't for god and it wasn't for country. At 18 I was just a kid and all I knew about life at this point is I was about to fulfill my childhood dream and that's all there was to it. The one promise I made to myself before leaving, is that I would never fall into the "brainwashed" stereotype. I didn't care if I had lost all my limbs, if I could just come back from this experience with everything from the neck up I would be OK. No one was going to take "ME" from me and in the end, some of me would be left standing.
I would be lying if I said I hadn't any inner demons after multiple deployments to the front lines of Iraq & Afghanistan...I soon realized the only thing we were over there fighting for was our brother to the Left & Right, nothing else mattered. After 8 years, I was somehow more lost and had more questions than ever before. A good Marine doesn't ask questions, you just do what you're told. So when all these unanswered questions clouded my mind following the war, I knew it was time for me to move on. I was ashamed for my part in such an unnecessary war, ashamed for the reasons behind the curtain and hidden agendas yet I was proud, for I had served my time honorably. I was a leader who upheld the rules & regulations as well as my oath but more importantly, I never lost sight of my own moral standards of how I conducted myself as a human being or how I treated others along my path, I valued this more than anything. To be proud and ashamed at the same time for a third of my life dedicated to this experience was a hard concept to wrap my head around.
My eyes had been opened to one way of the world, a destructive way and it left a bitter taste in my mouth. Unaware that I would soon be introduced to another way allowing me to see the world through new eyes, I began planning the next chapter of my life 3 years prior to my discharge. I had my sights set on a 2,184 mile journey that would take me over the Appalachian Mountain range beginning in Georgia and I was going to walk home. I researched it every day, I yearned and longed for the day I would be able to set foot on the trail and experience the raw freedom America "believes" we all had been fighting for. I used to have the most vivid, most realistic dreams I've ever dreamed. Hiking the trail, meeting wonderful people, laughing and smiling up the mountainous coast...Then I would wake up in my barracks room, with over 2 years left on my contract. Those dreams were nightmares, painful, they felt like a cruel joke but patience for this indescribable journey ahead was a great lesson and definitely worth it.
September 18th 2012:
So, where was I...
So, where was I...
Oh yeah, I'm almost at the summit and my entire life is catching up to the present moment. It hasn't even been a full year from my discharge date. Since, I've traveled 12,000 miles around the country through more than two dozen states visiting all National Parks & Monuments and hiked for 6 months over 2,000 miles up the East coast through 14 states. My goal to hike the entire length of the Appalachian Trail completely exceeded my dreams and expectations. The connections I discovered within other beings and in the natural world was beyond the comprehension of my younger self. This chapter was about to be fulfilled in the next few hundred feet... My heart pounding, breathing deeply, I can only focus on the summit sign. Moving forward, my body feels like it's vibrating immensely. The rest of the world seems to be slowly disappearing, almost like tunnel vision I can't even see my feet. I'm stumbling, kicking rocks and a maverick wave of emotions is building rapidly with every step towards the sign. You know how they say your life flashes in front of your eyes right before you die? Well, I believe the same to be true right before you wake up. It's all happening so fast, I see my family, my childhood, high school years, then all my experiences fighting the war, 8 years in service and all my life's obstacles are flashing towards me like a freight train. The beautiful landscapes and people I met over the last year flowing through me and the 2,000 mile journey I am about to conquer trailing behind. These are the most powerful moments I have ever experienced. The sign is now within arms reach, a combination of every single emotion one can feel is hitting me in the face as I reach out to latch onto the sign with both hands. A breaking point, just in time as I nearly collapse from this profound happening. Time froze as I lay here hanging on, tears of sadness and tears of happiness falling onto the rocks below...and then... I woke up. Silence, a very heavy weight seemed to be lifted from within, I had let it all go. I am awake for the first time in my life, towering atop the greatest Mountain in Maine and reborn 28 years later to the day. With a glorious smile upon my face I tilt my head back laughing boisterously at the sky. Peace, happiness, freedom and the clearest state of consciousness consume my being as I sit here admiring all of creation through new eyes with a Man I finally had the pleasure of meeting. ME.