Before Moose got sick, I had looked ahead to Easter, worried about how I would spend my day. I decided I would take Moose for a hike, that we’d use the quiet day to get outside and push ourselves physically and get a bit outside my comfort zone.
Now Moose is gone and I spent the day completely alone. I did have an invitation to join a friend, but I declined. I really felt like I needed to spend the day alone. I thought about still going for a hike, and immediately felt anxiety rise up inside me. But after sitting with it a bit I realized that I was afraid not of being in the wilderness alone, but of being alone with myself in the quiet of the outdoors. Which probably meant I needed to do it!
In the end, I didn’t drive two hours to go for the hike I had planned. Instead I decided to take the trail that Moose and I passed on our walk multiple times a week. It was a small footpath that went into the woods and each time we passed it, Moose would ask to go down it. I always said no, as the hill we were climbing as we passed it taxed me enough.
Today I decided to take the path. I stood at the trailhead for a moment and cried, so sad that I was exploring it for the first time without him. What had I been afraid of?
As I walked through the birch trees, I thought about Moose and his love of trails. Whenever we went hiking, and we came across a path that diverged from the main path, that was a bit less traveled, he always ALWAYS tried to turn down that path. He was an explorer at heart. He enjoyed going down small trails. He wanted to go the way others hadn’t.
As I thought about this, I stopped and cried again. My amazing dog had so much to teach me. And I was filled with regret that I didn’t say yes to walking down this trail with him. I regretted not turning down those smaller trails with him when we could have. He deserved the joy of exploring the path less traveled. And so do I. I deserve to explore. I deserve to try new things; to do the unconventional. I deserve to say yes.
I don’t know what the new things are yet. I’m not sure what happens next for me. But I know that I want to be open and brave to take new paths. I also know that I want to be brave enough to spend quiet time with myself. So when I returned from my long walk, I ordered a new pair of hiking boots and pants. I’m going to try hiking alone. I’m going to find joy in finding and building my strength and going after something that scares me.