all of the selves we Have ever been
The Paths Taken
I push myself out the door
for a morning walk.
The sky is dark and dreary. The air is moist, and it is cold. Gusts of wind sting my eyes. Within a few yards of my home, my fingertips begin to tingle inside my gloves,
I walk along an urban bike path past clusters of office buildings. Tucked between the newer constructions and further back from the bike path, there is a small, nondescript structure that is home to a substance abuse treatment center.
As I proceed along the path, I pass a young man walking with his head down, pressing into the wind. On this cold, wet day he wears worn jeans and a sweatshirt. He has no coat, no gloves, no hat. He walks with purpose. He does not look up or speak when we pass.
On my return, I again walk by the treatment center. A woman who appears to be of middle age is coming from the parking lot toward the bike path. She is dressed in leggings and a hooded sweatshirt. The hood is drawn up tight around her face. She passes by me, her expression is blank. I wonder how far she has to go. I think about how cold she must be. I wonder if the young man I passed earlier made it safely to his destination, if he will suffer consequences of being unprotected in the cold.
I wonder more about where they each are headed on this path we share, and I wonder about their lives before substances tricked them into giving up all reason and judgment, before they were robbed of health and happiness.
Passing this clinic today, I realize that I have been lucky. All of us are just one drink, one pill, one snort, one naïve and reckless day away from walking a different path.
I walk for enjoyment. They walk to save their lives.
For all those traveling the same path, may the road rise up to meet you, and may the wind be always at your back.
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