What started off as an ordinary, innocent walk in the woods, turned into a magical quest leading to a hidden treasure.
Having not been sticking to her promise to herself over the previous week, of going for a walk every day, on the Sunday after she turned 31, Michelle decided to get back on track and to go for a walk in the woods. She was alone in the house, and though she was trying to get some work done, she was feeling too sleepy to concentrate, and so decided to get some fresh air.
She wrapped up warm, it was January, after all, and as mild a winter as it had been, there was still a chill in the air. She set off down the driveway, and instead of taking her usual route, she headed in the opposite direction. As she walked down the path, she took in all of the sounds and smells and sights, taking in details that she had not previously noticed. As she made her way down the trail, she decided that the time of talking about and thinking about the past had gone. And that it was time to focus entirely on the present and how that would create her future. After all, the past was done, and she had no desire to live there any more.
At each junction, she opted to take the opposite path to normal, and soon she found herself on a path she had never walked on before, despite having walked through these woods for the previous four and a half years.
Intrigued by the possibility of this new adventure, she continued, and found some new caves, where she thought a wise old wizard may live. Perhaps they would have some words of wisdom for her. But even though she called out greetings, there was no reply.
She moved on, past a majestic Ent, (who was asleep) and found a curious hole in the ground, and wondered if there might be a helpful hobbit there, perhaps bearing some cheese and crackers or some jolly music, but alas, no one was home there either.
She continued along, and found she was heading for the river, the sound of which grew louder and louder. It appeared to be flowing quite fiercely, due to the rains they’d had, she supposed. In the middle of her path, she came across a shaman’s feather. Its black and white stripes reminded her that there was light in darkness, and that duality was needed in life, despite it being difficult to endure the darkness at times. It also reminded her that there was an inbetween, where things weren’t black or white, but a bit fuzzy and grey. And that’s okay too.
She silently thanked the shaman, for leaving her the message, and continued further down the hill, a little daydream running through her mind as she carefully descended the slippery, rocky path.
Still unsure as to what her next step should be, in her wonderfully crazy and haphazard life, she was thrilled to find that though the wizard and the hobbit had not been home, the pirates had left her a treasure map! She couldn’t fail to find what was hidden now.
She eagerly read the map and then followed the trail to the river, and found a deserted beach, the water lapping onto the shore. She remembered all the many times she had spent at the ocean, and how it always reminded her of the expansive nature of the universe. Standing on the shore, looking out to sea, would always bring home to her that she was merely a drop in the ocean, part of the whole, connected to all of life.
She continued on, past a beautiful tree with roots like celtic knots, reminding her of her heritage, of her ancestors. Though she had resolved to not dwell on the past, she thanked them now, for all they had learnt and passed on to her.
She found a very hospitable stone, at the waters’ edge, and sat upon it. It occurred to her that it must have belonged to the house she had seen on the treasure map, that had once stood where she now sat by the water. She sat in silence for a while. Her eyes drifted closed and she listened to the sound of the water, listened to her own thoughts, to the ideas that were drifting about in her head. She opened her eyes after a while, and watched the water as it hit the shore then rippled back, and a little poem came to mind, so she wrote it down:
As the river
She watched the water for a while, then thanking the river for its wisdom, she stood up and decided to make her way back. As she went up the trail, she thought about how she had been trying for some time to find a way to prove to herself that she was committed to her life, to her mission, having realised a few months before, that she hadn’t been up until then. She had been trying to devise a ritual of some kind, or to create something, or to purchase something to show her commitment, but she had not been able to decide on what it should be. She didn’t know what this kind of commitment looked like, having not experienced it before. She stopped on the path and looked towards the river, and spotted a heart-shaped patch of moss on a tree. She instantly knew that it was a message for her dear friend, and so captured an image of it to share with her, once her quest was over.
A quest! That was one idea she’d had of proving her commitment. To go on a quest by herself. But had this not been a quest? What had started out so simply, as a way to get some fresh air and exercise, had turned into so much more. As she made her way back up the hill, she looked up at the trees, dark against the white cloudiness of the sky, and it hit her again, the fact that everything was connected.
She realised in that moment, that she didn’t need a special ritual, or a symbol or to create anything to make her commitments, she could do it right there and then, with the trees, the river, the rocks and the sky as her witnesses, she could state them out loud, and so they would be done.
As she climbed the slippery, rocky hill, she began to speak out loud:
I, Michelle Louise Gordon, am committed to my life. To loving myself, loving my body. To taking care of myself, my soul and my body. I am committed to my purpose and my mission here on this earth, and I will do whatever it takes to ensure I complete what I came here to do. And so, I commit to helping others. I commit to inspiring others. I commit to helping others to heal. I commit to my own growth and evolution. I commit to assisting my friends and family and those who seek me out to become their best selves, and to follow their own missions too. I am committed to everything that my soul has in store for me. And so it is.
By now, she had reached the caves again, and as she looked toward them, she realised that the wizard had indeed had some wise advice for her, but she had not been open to it until now:
She knew that the wizard meant there was a danger of her forgetting her commitments, especially with her terrible memory, and that she would need to find a way not to forget the magic of her quest. She thanked the wizard, and continued up the hill. When she had nearly reached home again, she took off her gloves and scarf, having got too warm, and pulled the bobble from her hair, allowing it to fall freely. Without realising, she had wrapped the bobble twice around her ring finger, and she smiled when she saw it. In that unthinking act, she had sealed her commitment to herself. Once she arrived home from her quest, she pulled off her boots, and went inside to make a cup of tea.
It was clear in that moment, as she watched the steam rise from the silver spout, that the only way she could make absolutely sure that her commitment would not be forgotten, would be to share it with the world. So, cup of tea in hand, she sat at her computer, and began to write.