Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Metaphor

I emailed my brother a few days ago and was trying to think of a metaphor to describe what these last couple of weeks before the trail feel like. I probably should have taken a few days off from work before leaving for San Diego, but it seemed like working and making money was probably more important. Anyways, I'm working until April 30th, moving out of my apartment and hopefully heading down to San Diego on the 1st of May, Dan flies in on the 3rd, and we begin this epic journey on the 5th. Anyways here's the metaphor I was thinking of:

When I was 10 or 11, I went camping with my friend Willie, his brother Chris, and their father Mr. Leverenz. We went to this amazing place in Western Maryland called Swallow Falls. Western Maryland is the mountainous section of the state, with beautiful green hills and mountains rolling allong the Appalachian Mountain chain. It is black bear habitat, and can be surprisingly wild in some sections. As a kid, it was a very mysterious land. I remember the drive out their was just as adventurous as the actual camping. Mr. Leverenz drove a brown, Nissan pickup truck with a bed and trailer, Willie and I usually sat in these tiny folded seats crammed between the front seats and the bed of the pickup truck, and Chris sat in the front. Mr. Leverenz always had a way to keep us entertained, whether it was refusing to stop at the new Dumont Oaks traffic light (sometimes Mr Leverenz would slow the car down to a crawl in order not to be stopped by that light), turning up the radio when Chris tried to ask a question, (Mr Leverenz would say "What Chris? I can't hear you. The radio is too loud!") or playing bluegrass on the radio, or explaining why there were runaway truck ramps on the sides of the roads. Anyways on this particular trip, the pickup truck was having a real hard time climbing the mountain roads. The truck started to stutter and shake and practically stall out every time we began a mountain climb. The truck would slow down to about 10 miles an hour while Mr Leverenz would yell "Come on, come on, you can make it!" If I remember correctly, Mr Leverenz named his truck that day. Every time he would call the name as we struggled uphill, the truck would kick into gear and we would successfully drive over the mountain pass.

Eventually we made it to Swallow Falls, A beautiful section of woods that had a large creek, waterfalls, and giant boulders and cliffs to dive off of, surrounded by evergreens and poplars. Of course, Mr. Leverenz wowed us kids with a one and a half back flip off a cliff edge straight into a back flop on the creek. The main attraction, of course, was the waterfall that gives the area it's name. I don't remember it being all that huge, but it did have a really cool cave behind it that could fit several people.

And now for the metaphor: Mr. Leverenz wanted to show Willie, Chris, and I the cave located behind the waterfall. We climbed the rocks and took the small path that brought us to the cave . It was hard to hear as the water was crashing down right in front of us. I remember watching in amazement as the water was pouring down in a silver wall inches from my face. At that moment, I couldn't resist. Mr. Leverenz was talking to us about something when I decided to stick my foot into the rushing wall of water. In an instant, I was pinned under thousands of gallons of crashing water, swept out of the cave and pinned into a tiny crevasse. What seemed like forever, I could not move and feared this was the end of my life. Just the same way I was instantaneously swept into the crevasse, I was suddenly spit out, rolling down the rock slab, dazed, confused, and free from the grips of the falling water. I was ALIVE! Mr. Leverenz soon appeared and was checking to make sure I was OK. So, in some ways, that's what it feels like right now.

The cave: my current life.
The waterfall, the pressure to get everything done.
Pinned: The transition from current life to new trail life
The first few days on the trail: most likely feeling dazed and confused
ALIVE: The rest of the trail


  1. Mark, I so enjoy reading what you have to say. I see a book in your future. Seriously.