I’ve been finalizing my second collection of poetry, The Trail Is Just a Suggestion. The poems were all set, but I wanted to tell the story of the title as a sort of introduction or invitation to the book. After all, the title came to me before most of the poems! I want to share that story with you here, along with a poem from Brainstorms called "Walk with Me for a Moment." My friend Hector and I met at a coffee bar in Austin, Texas. He was working and I was ordering and an unusual conversation about the color pink led him to share that he was an artist. Hector created the artwork for my first book, Brainstorms, and a friendship ensued from that creative collaboration. The first time Hector and I hiked together, I was a bit confused. I had blocked off what I thought was the appropriate amount of time for the distance we would travel, given a moderate-to-brisk pace and the uncertainty of having two dogs with us. You see, I grew up in suburban Los Angeles where the goal of a hike was to burn as many calories as possible in the shortest time. For most of my life, this drive for efficiency and some external standard of success fueled my direction and plans. Hector is ten years younger than I am and definitely more fit. In the back of my mind, I was apprehensive about being able to keep up with him. I soon learned that my concerns were unwarranted. I would have to slow down. Hector wasn’t there to make good time or cover a certain amount of ground. He was there to explore a new friendship and the gift of a beautiful day in the woods. An interesting leaf would catch his eye, and Hector would run off the path to investigate. He showed me the inspiration he found for his artwork in the curves of a rotted-out tree stump. He stopped to admire the moss that was forming on stones that lined a small waterfall. On another one of our hikes, we were walking on a trail alongside a creek. We had been there before, but this time we reached a point that had become impassable. A tree had fallen during a heavy storm and there was no way around it. I said, “I guess we need to turn around and go back the same way we came.” “Sure,” Hector said, unconvinced. He was hatching another plan. “Or, we could slide down this little hill into the creek and walk through the creek a little ways until we catch up with the trail.” I looked at the “little hill” he was referring to and then at Hector and then back at the hill. “Uh, you might be able to slide down the cliff, but I don’t think I can,” I told him. “Sure you can,” he said as he held out his hand to let me know that he would help me get down, that I wasn’t alone. Moments later I was walking through hip-deep water, laughing at myself and the moment and thinking about this great lesson that Hector had taught me:
The trail is just a suggestion.
I invite you take a walk with me in one of my favorite fields by clicking the video link below and listening to the poem.
Walk with Me for a Moment
Walk with me for a moment.
You don’t need to leave your whole life behind,
don’t need to cancel the plans you’ve made for next Thursday.
I won’t ask you to change your mind,
only to stroll by my side for a time
and share some company
on this journey.
Let me share my secrets.
Let my heart be a soft nest
in which to cradle your fears,
your wildest dreams,
the swirling stirrings of your imagination.
I will look after them until the time is ripe,
and we both know the time will come
for us to release one another,
without fanfare or tug-of-wars,
without a long and tearful goodbye.
Just a gentle release,
as you veer off to the left and I continue on.
Even as the small part of me longs to call you back.
Even as I feel a twitch in the high part of my nose
when I remember the day
that we chanced to walk down the same road.