When the time comes, I know I’ll be able to tell my kids that when I was 24, I chose to leave what I knew, to trust in the universe, and to leap into the unknown.
I’m sad that my story also includes the part about brother Sam dying. His story is a little too short, if you ask me.
My brother Sam Murray lived for nineteen years and five days and he left an inimitable mark on the world. I am proud of and deeply inspired by the legacy of planetary stewardship and authentic relationships that my brother espoused.
I loved to spend time with him, especially doing projects outside, like weeding, or building a chicken coop with Dad.
Primary among the many things we didn’t get around to doing was hike the PCT together.
Now, since Sam lives on in memory, I get to carry him wherever I go. And I’ll admir, traveling with astral Sam is much more cost-effective. For one, like me, physical Sam had an insane appetite.
This morning, Shimee, Tam, Firefly, and Luna and I hiked the “White Rabbit” trail, part of the PCT. It was super fun, my body responded really well to the exercise, and astral Sam came along.
We walked trails with names like “Looking Glass” and “Cheshire Cat,” and indeed the forest here has a very magical feel. It’s the moisture in the air; it’s so green here it’s crazy. And people talk of there being vortices too.
We got to see the Rogue River Valley spread out below us as we wound around and around, up a nice sized hill. We probably did about 3 miles in all, it wasn’t a long trail, but it was steep. After about a 45 minute hike we stopped and ate lunch on some large rocks facing east-ish.
One of the many things we talked about was how our parents met. I’ve heard so many stories about my parents’ life and most of them repeatedly. It was great to hear the story of Firefly’s parents and to hear more about Luna’s parents’ story too. Yet when it was my turn to tell how my parents met, I found it difficult to sift through the tidbits I remember and string them together, even though I’ve heard it like a million times. I felt unauthorized to tell their story. They’re the authorities, after all.
Then it occurred to Firefly, or maybe it was Luna, that one day, when our kids are 24, they might be telling our how-they-met stories to their friends. What might they say about us?
I’ve already rewritten so many of my stories. Here’s a silly example: I used to say that if I was hiking the same trail out and back, it was always best to start the hike with a climb. If I’m going to come back the same way later on, I would prefer to hike uphill first, when I’m freshest and go downhill when I’m spent.
Now, I don’t care if the hike in front of me is all uphill. Now that I see it again, I feel it’s value was greater to me when I was younger. Instead of focusing on the end of the hike, now I prefer to practice being totally present to every step along the way. It’s like Kant wrote about, I strive to see all things in my life as ends in and of themselves, at least where it makes sense to… Every step of a journey is both a beginning and an end. No step is ordinary, no step is just a means to an end.
As I walk my path and write my story I’m excited to continue to evolve. I realize that I decide how to characterize my experiences, whether I’m talking about a hike or a death in the family. Life is full of experiences that appear easy, and others that look hard. I don’t think life is hard, nor that it needs to be. I know that many of my experiences in life will be challenging. Yet instead of resisting those moments, I open myself fully to them. Whatever I need to learn in any situation, I open myself to it.