Perceptions of Success : I see a spiders web as a success, but to the spider success comes from a fly caught in its web, not the web itself. A tree that is flexible enough to bend in the breeze instead of breaking because it’s too rigid. A flower’s stem that is pollinated by a bee so it can reproduce, & likewise the bee finds nectar to feed their entire colony. All successes in life depend upon your perception.
Back on to the trail for the final time, and the rain does not look like it is going to let up. How fitting to have this inclement weather challenge me as I strive to finish my Hadrian’s Wall hiking journey. I walk along the salt marshes as the rain runs down my forehead and off the tip of my nose.
I’ve not been handed a silver spoon in life, far from it. Since the age of 11 I’ve worked, starting in a farmers field picking crops all Summer long & into Fall, side by side with hard working immigrants. I’ve cleaned toilets & gas station pumps by hand while breathing in the gasoline fumes of the 9-5 businessman’s car as they avoided eye contact with me, a poor boy shivering in the cold.
The wind screams, my eyes look only straight ahead, driving my focus towards the finish line. Soaked to the bone I am, only a mile in. I find some berries along the roadside, and pop them into my mouth, savoring the sweetness on my tongue.
I’ve put in long shifts in the healthcare industry…16, 24 & sometimes even 36 hours straight. I’ve done the back breaking work of blasting rust off Diesel engines. Nothing glamorous. Even in my current position that I’ve done since 2002, I’ve gone months at a time without a day off, trying earn the respect of my employers every step of the way, & still felt I could be let go at a moments notice. Always fighting for a chance to prove my worth. My value as a person as well as an employee.
The ocean waves are crashing against the land in a psychotic symphony from the storm. I find a bench and eat my small lunch under a makeshift lean-to as I watch the tide. After a spell, I go back onto the trail, and a car pulls up to me, asking if I’m walking to Bowness on Solway, the town at the end of the Wall.
“Aye.” I call out with a smile.
“Well lad, you better hurry, as the tide is quickly coming in and the roads will all be flooded in a few minutes.”
In a few minutes? I’ve seen tides come in before, several times actually, but none as quickly as this one. I don’t panic so much as become excited about the possibility of flooding and the challenge that may come my way on this final stretch.
It’s been a long road to get to where I am today. I’ve had wake at 3am to walk to work for a 7am shift. I’ve ridden my bicycle to the laundromat & grocery store because I was too poor to have a car. I’m not proud to say I’ve stolen just to eat, & had many nights wondering how I would pay the rent….
Being a Libra, I’ve come to accept the balance in all things. I hope that the Universal scales weigh one’s good deeds on one side, & one’s mistakes on the other. For years the regrets seemed to hold me down, but I’ve tried to tip the scales the other way with what I hope are good actions toward others.
I don’t even think a few minutes had passed before the road was completely covered in water. A sign states that the maximum level the water will rise is one foot, which is a ton of water.
Cars are trapped on either side of the flooded road. I slowly try to make my way along the edge, my feet fully enveloped in water as it rises higher and higher……
I make it through the worst of the flooding, and find myself right along the coast. Seabirds are everywhere, and the salty smell fills my senses. I see the sign for town ahead, and the outline of buildings. I’m coming to the end.
This Hadrian’s Wall journey, for me, was never about if I could finish, but what I may learn along the way.
I hope to inspire one other person to not give up, to always dream & work hard. I would hope that success comes to you as well.
I have more big dreams on the horizon, & hope that fate lets me continue to pursue my passions.
Remember….”no eternal reward will forgive us now from wasting the dawn.”
There was no big celebration at the end of the Hadrian’s Wall Path, in fact no other soul was there. Fittingly appropriate. I quietly sit at the end and listen to the ocean, thinking about what I have just accomplished. I feel surreal.