I took the road less traveled by.....and that has made all the difference
Yesterday, during my first day off this week, I decided to venture out my front door and become more acquainted with the area that I call home: Manasquan. Armed with my iPod and my camera, all I wanted was an opportunity to clear my head for a while and get some time doing two things that I really enjoy: listening to music and taking pictures of the things that I come across.
For anyone not familiar with Manasquan and its beach, it's more intimate, less noisy, and its inlet runs parallel to the Point Pleasant inlet on the other side. A long pathway of jagged rocks all placed in the form of a pathway, leading out to a lookout point made of concrete. I was determined to get to that lookout point, no matter how treacherous the path may have looked. I took each rock at a time, judging and gauging which one made the most sense to reach for next. At times, I was scared I was going to fall or be blown away by the crazy wind, yet I knew that if I had turned around then, that it was pointless for me to have even tried at all........so I kept going.
And finally, after enduring the wind and sea-spray catching me off-guard several times, I made it to the lookout point and took a long hard look at the pathway I had just conquered. Funnily enough, life is just like that jagged path: lots of patience and decisions that could alter how you venture down your own path could mean you either make it through or end up in the water. And sometimes, taking a breather and allowing yourself the opportunity to take in your surroundings on that path help you to continue down it.
I felt I had conquered a huge feat: making it through the rough patch of the road, yet I knew that I'd have to go back the way I came in, with quite a bit of alteration to how I originally walked that pathway. But instead of immediately jumping the gun to go back, I stayed on that lookout point, watching the fisherman trying to catch some prime fare off the concrete pier.......until the graffiti on the concrete caught my eye. There, in bright blue lettering, I saw the following words: LIVE FREE. Of course, I had to take a picture of those words, because after all of the struggles and tribulations recently, I felt a sense of calm reading those very words. All of us struggle on a day-to-day basis with feelings of not being able to live the way we want to live, not being where we want to be on certain things in our life. Even the happiest and most content of individuals will always have something that they strive to have still, something that always seems to be just a little out of reach for them. I felt empowered after seeing these words and wanted to embrace its message. Therefore, my camera was staying out, as I saw many other meaningful messages painted all over the inlet.
Some were silly little proclamations of love, like "Jeff <3's Erin 4Ever" while others were even sillier, just random nicknames and words like "Skyscraper" and "Big Black" vertically painted down the concrete anchors. Each was unique in its own way, offering something new and interesting to look at while I took in the sea air and magnificent view of the shore line. But then I came across yet another word spray-painted onto the concrete: Fear. For so long, I've feared the danger along my path, yet I've continued to follow what I believe in. And just like the previous phrase spoke to me, this one did as well, because fear will always be present in anything I do, just like while I was walking along the jagged rocks. It is everywhere and anywhere it wants to be, no matter what happens in life. The only way to truly conquer fear is to know that it will always be there, but to not pay any mind to it.
More and more, I became comfortable with the surroundings of the inlet and allowed myself the opportunity to really open up on my picture-taking. I felt all the tension drain and my camera gave me the opportunity to just relax for a while and enjoy the beautiful day unfolding before me. Picture after picture of the waves, the inlet on the opposite side, fishing boats, and surfers caught my eye. Even for a weekday, there was still so much going on outside......and I wanted to capture all that I could. While there would be more, I decided I had taken enough pictures at the lookout and proceeded to make the trek back over the rough terrain. On my way back, however, I came across the most extraordinary heart.......painted onto a cracking, crumbling rock. Before my friend Nick could offer his personal interpretation of the image as an old love, it made me realize that even when your heart is broken, it's still intact. It never completely shatters, but instead weathers the storm, keeping its shape for all to see. The heart is a warrior, always sharing its message of love no matter what the cost. In a way, I felt like it was my heart, cracked and weathered through the years, but still able to distinguish that love is alive and well.
No matter what happens in life, I will always believe in love. For a while, like this path, I needed to take it easy and find my way, despite the odds against me. Love is eternal, it is prominent even when everything else is not. It comes in all different sizes, defies all logic and reason, and will always win. Every day, my faith in love is renewed. I see it in every form and anywhere I go. It can be in your significant other kissing you goodbye as they start their day, or a parcel from a friend. We see it in people holding the door for others or simply greeting a stranger. It comes in a touch, or a phrase, or a gesture of kindness. I could come up with many examples for hate as well, but a simple gesture of love can erase even the largest exhibition of hate.
My road may be jagged and scary at times, but it is mine. And it is full of just as much beauty as a smoothly paved road.......but I don't need something that's easy. I need the road that teaches me how to prepare myself for life, that challenges me to push harder and choose wisely, because life is not easy. Life is messy, complicated at times, and can push you down even when you're already down. But as long as you keep getting back up and pushing forward.......nothing can stop you.