I go hiking at least four times a week. I have hundreds of places that I can go, but I usually go to Red Rock Open Space. It’s comfortable, familiar, and a five minute drive from my house. I walk as both a meditation to open myself up to new ideas and as a way to work off my frustrations and cry to the Universe for answers.
The other day, I allowed myself to get triggered. It’s funny how one tiny thing, probably with no real significance, can set off an avalanche of old emotions that scoop you up and send your mind crashing into despair. Well, at least that’s how it works for me. When I get triggered, I go straight to feeling alone and abandoned. I will even go so far as to fear for my welfare and security, although none of those things are real.
The Open Space is nice because it’s so big that you hardly ever cross paths with anyone and even though it’s only a few miles from my house, it feels like I’m all alone. It’s the same feeling I get as I look out at the stars at night: alone but knowing I’m a part of something so much bigger. I never feel alone when I look at the stars.
Yesterday, rather than reveling in being alone, I was feeling lonely and pitiful. As I walked, I begged the Universe to help me. “I’m tired of doing everything by myself. I’m tired of being alone. Why won’t you help me?” Shortly after I got that out of my system, I noticed a old man ahead of me, dressed ball cap to pants in deep olive green with an matching jacket twisted around his arm. He was looking out toward a field of sunflowers and I wondered if he was looking at something in particular or if he was just admiring the flowers as I do.
I continued walking toward him as he switched his gaze toward the other side of the trail. I wondered if perhaps he had wandered away from home and was lost. As I got closer, I could tell that he wanted to talk, so I took out my earbuds. He said, “I just bought a new house. The one down there with the chimney.” He pointed out a nice brick house about a mile away. He talked for a little bit about his move and as I listened, I noticed his white hair tucked under his cap. It had been a while since he’d had a cut. He also had long white hairs jutting out below his Adam’s apple, like he had shaved down to that spot and quit or perhaps they had crawled up from his chest. It was an odd place for such long hairs. And the sides of his eyes were deeply wrinkled. The wrinkles looked like a web of lightning branching out across the sky.
He told me that he walked a lot and measured his distance, not by miles, but by elevation. He proudly stated that he was probably the only one who did that. I asked him if he had walked the distance to the moon yet and he said that he’d gone up 80,000 feet in elevation over the years. I told him that I was impressed.
We chatted a little while longer, then parted ways. He said, “I’ll probably see you around” and I smiled and said yes, he probably would. It turns out he wasn’t lost and though I felt that way, neither was I. We were in the right place at the right time. The Universe had just orchestrated a brief encounter between two lonely people to show us that we weren’t really alone after all.