Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “trail/trial.” Use one, use both, use them any way you’d like. Bonus points if you use both. Have fun!

Although today’s SoCS post looks (and is) a bit different from my usual, it all started normally enough. The first thing that came to mind was an old saying about paths (trails) up a mountain. I Googled it to make sure I worded it correctly, only to find there are several versions, from Chinese, Hindu, Japanese and who knows what else.

My favorite version is attributed to the Japanese monk and poet Ikkyu:

A blog about real life hiking trails for you to check out

Before I get further down this SoCS road, I want to point you all in the direction of the lovely blog A Little Bit Out of Focus by Mike. He used to live in Switzerland but recently moved to Wales. He loves hikes and taking photos while he does, and the Swiss and the Welsh landscape are fabulous for both. The trails he’s been on! I don’t know how he came by his blog title, because his photos are not out of focus, and it always makes me happy to live vicariously through his adventures.

Now on to the philosophical meanderings!

Photo credit: Action Vance on Unsplashed

After locating more quotes than I had bargained for, I did a stream of consciousness search for images of paths trails to go along with philosophical poem of many paths up that mountain of life, or enlightenment, or whatever metaphor that mountain is to you. I think we all hope for the passage to be a gentle amble up the slope, well-marked with plenty of shade and resting benches and clean bathrooms, with no mosquitos. A few pretty butterflies to spot for a surprise, an unexpected waterfall would be lovely. Hopefully we get at least a few steps along the journey that feel like this one (above) ↑ Ahhh, yeah, this ain’t so bad. Fresh air, vitamin D, life is good, pass the trail mix…

Um, yeah. Then there are days (months, years) where it feels like the hike is more like ↓

Photo credit: Hu Chen on Unsplashed
Photo credit: Kelly Sikkama on Unsplash

Wouldn’t it be nice if most of the trip “up that mountain” were clearly marked? Spontaneity is fun, sometimes, but clear guidance would sure reduce a lot of stress, like the photo ↑ Sadly, I seem to have misplaced the trail guide they handed each of us at birth. I was born before GPS, and I think I got screwed.

It sure seems like a lot of the time the trail is more like, “trail? what trail? where TF is the trail?” ↓

Photo credit: Lionello DelPiccolo on Unsplash
Photo credit: Crispin Jones on Unsplashed

We can join the crowd, follow the leader, see some scenery, and maybe have a safe, predictable travel ↑

Or, we can think outside the box, which sometimes gets us no where near a mountain, let alone the top of it. It feels a little weird, and people look at you funny while you’re doing it, but who said you have to get to the top of a mountain? You can see the bright moon from the top of a ladder, too, right? ↓ Or fall off. Falling off is an option.

Photo credit: Armand Khoury on Unsplashed
Photo credit: Greg Rakozy on Unsplashed

Some of us are the prepared types. ↑ They do the work, plan the plans…

Others of us, well… You’ll notice these hikers have turned around and are going to try a different route. That works, too! And maybe they meet the guy with all of the preparedness tools and make a new friend (and mooch). ↓ Sometimes, and this seems to be me, I do all of the preparation and think I know where I’m headed but because I’m analog without GPS, I still end up getting twirled around and heading back down that damned slope!

Photo credit: Steffan Mitchell on Unsplash

Some people seem to be born with a lot of advantages to getting up that stupid mountain! ↓

Photo credit: Tim Foster on Unsplashed

Then there is always trail by fire. (Pauses for the pun to sink in. You know I had to get the other prompt word, trial, in here, even it was sideways.) ↓

Photo credit: Lucas Ludwig on Unsplash
Photo credit: Brad Barmore on Unsplash

I have a friend who has the mantra of “keep your eyes on the prize.” ↑ He did and he got it. It certainly is a lot easier to reach your goals when you can clearly see them, focus on them, imagine what it will be like when you finally get to the summit and see that bright moon.

Fog happens. ↓

As another friend used to say, “You just keep moving, one foot in front of the other.” This is also true, but a big walking stick to prod in front of you may help you from inadvertently going over a cliff. This is optional.

Photo credit: Anastasiia Tarasova on Unsplash
Photo credit: Andrew Neel

Keeping your eyes on the prize and just one foot in front of the other are useful, but every so often just sit your ass down on the trail! Reflect on where you have been, and how you got to this part of the trail. Is the prize still the same? Or do you need to pivot with your next step? Movement is essential but so is just being in the moment. That mountain will be there when you’re ready to move again.

What I was listening to while I wrote, Storyville by Robbie Robertson:

Featured image (cropped) credit: Alexander Milo on Unsplash


      1. Mine is w/o GPS too! I do have blue tooth though and use the GPS on my phone. I am terrible at directions. Back in the day, I used the fold out paper map to get places. Now that was fun!

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  1. Having been lost on a mountain trail, I laughed (I can do that now) at your “where TF is the trail.” This is a wonderful post with many meanings for both hiking the trails and finding your way through life. Great job!

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    1. Oh. Wow. I’ve been lost on a mountain for about five whole minutes, and the panic was huge. I can’t image being lost for real on one. Glad you liked the post. It was fun!

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