“It’s the things you least expect that hit you the hardest.”

~ anonymous

 

 

Chapter 4 Recap:

Phoenix confronts haunting memories as he revisits a significant site from his past. The chapter unfolds with recollections of a leisurely Labor Day morning followed by an unexpected breakup five months later. Emotions intensify as Phoenix battles self-doubt, grief, and negative thoughts. The journey takes a poignant turn as Phoenix grapples with the reopening of childhood wounds, leaving him torn between tears, anger, and the need to confront the echoes of the past.

 

 


 

…My childhood wound had re-opened, and it was gushing blood. It was going to get infected if I didn’t tend to it and this wasn’t helping!

 

My tears turned to anger. Why the fuck did Rafiki take me here? Of all places! Why here?

 

 

Unpredictable Conversations With Rafiki

 

I have run to catch up with Rafiki as he starts the 2.1 miles down to Muir Woods. He’s skipping. Well, if a mandrill can skip that is. He does look quite ridiculous from the back. Especially since he uses his staff to propel himself forward.

 

Skip. Push. Jump. Skip. Push. Jump.

 

Muir Woods Trail
© 2024, Inner Child Dimensions, LLC.

 

 

I settle in behind him, matching his excited leaps at a brisk pace.

 

Rafiki chants in a sing song voice, “The more passionate and intense the relationship starts, the deeper the wound it’s trying to heal.”

 

I swear he reminds me of when he was singing, “Asante sana squash banana, Wewe nugu mimi hapana” and Simba was chasing him trying to figure out how he knew his name. I’m practically running to keep up.

 

The more passionate and intense the relationship starts, the deeper the wound it’s trying to heal Share on X

 

This goes on for a couple of minutes before he abruptly stops, turns, and immediately swings his staff at my head. Instinctively, I bring mine up, blocking his, as a loud crack echoes throughout the canyon.

 

“I see you are no longer running from the past. You are learning from it.” He smiles, and winks, then turns and saunters down the path. I immediately slow my steps or else run him over.

 

Somehow, that mandril always keeps me on my toes. I never know what he’s going to do or what he’s going to say.

 

Rafiki knows my back story. He knows what happened this week. We just haven’t had a chance to discuss it. And it’s times like these, I wonder why I open the door to having these conversations with him.

 

“I did not see this coming,” Rafiki solemnly breaks the silence. “I wish I did. I know how much you wanted this relationship to work out.”

 

I sigh and breathe deeply. On one hand, I want to process this with him. On the other, I’m not sure I’m in the mental state to handle any critique right now.

 

Wait. He didn’t see it coming either? He sounds as disappointed as me. Like every one of my friends when they ask how my girlfriend is doing and I have to explain we broke up. Everyone is surprised.

 

All I can think to say was, “She caught me blindsided. I mean, I sensed something, but I didn’t expect we’d go from committed to single just like that.” I snap my fingers. I want to cry but take deep breaths to stay grounded.

 

“You were both blind,” Rafiki responds.

 

“I knew something was off. The energy between her was different. She’ll wait till we see each other in person before we have the harder conversations. That was a long ten days to wonder what was going on. But to end it? Without making any effort to work together?” I shake my head in sadness and frustration. “I’m so confused Rafiki. I thought we had better communication than that.” My head drops and I stare at my feet as I walk.

 

“Phoenix, she knows she’ll be gone for five months to follow her dreams. She knows she can’t give you what you need. It’s easier to break it off now than to wait until the inevitable,” Rafiki tries to sound empathetic. He’s not. He sounds like he’s lecturing me. I don’t want to listen to this.

 

“Well, she says it’s not a breakup,” I blurt with venom in my tone. “That she hasn’t left me. We’ve just redefined our relationship.” I hiss the word redefined like toxic gas.

 

“When did you two separate?”

 

“You know that?”

 

“When?”

 

“Last week.”

 

“Were you in a coupleship the week before?”

 

“I thought we were boyfriend and girlfriend. I mean until she said she wanted a change.”

 

“If it’s no longer a coupleship, it’s a breakup. We are good at parsing words. What I make up she is saying is that she wants your relationship to be the same, but doesn’t want to be committed. That’s what a breakup is. It’s removing commitment.”

 

I didn’t expect what Rafiki would say next, “What a gift she gave you.”

 

I’m at a loss of words. Gift? What? I’m shocked with the change of direction Rafiki just took in our conversation. Just like her, he unexpectedly changed his tune.

 

In the blink of an eye, without any chance to understand or work on what’s going on he starts talking gifts. I’m not ready for the gifts. I want to scream.

 

Rafiki isn’t going to stop. Once he’s on a roll, look out. Did anyone teach him about boundaries!?…

 

Chapter 6

 

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home, and think about it. Go out and get busy.”

~ Dale Carnegie

 

Chapter 3 Recap:

In Chapter 3, “The Arrival,” Phoenix reflects on the symbolism of his staff in the parking lot across from the Mountain Home Inn. As he grips his worn yet resilient staff, the intricate carvings tell a tale of personal healing and transformation. However, confronted by Rafiki’s simpler stick, he grapples with feelings of inadequacy and the desire for validation. As they prepare to venture into the woods, an unsettling wave of fear and sadness begins to well up, hinting at the emotional challenges awaiting Phoenix on this new leg of his journey.

 

 


 

Echos from the Past

 

…I pause one moment and look over my shoulder, an unsettling wave of fear and sadness beginning to well up in the pit of my stomach.

 

I recall when I was last here on Labor Day. My girlfriend and I had overslept, waking up sometime around noon. We were lying in bed, both feeling guilty we had let most of the day go by, yet, at the same time, there was an underlying sense of love, connection, and contentment that we enjoyed a leisurely morning snuggling together for so many hours.

 

“I don’t know when the last time I slept in this late was,” my girlfriend exclaimed.

 

“That makes two of us,” I grinned leaning in to kiss her.

 

“I feel guilty. The day is mostly gone. I was hoping to do some exercise.”

 

My brain was already pinging, contemplating ideas of what we could do. That Energizer Bunny was all wound up and ready to go. “How adventurous are you feeling?”

 

“I’m always down for an adventure,” she replied, her eyes suddenly bright with excitement.

 

“Let’s hike Mt. Tamalpias and see the sunset. We can go to the parking lot my friend suggested last night. But we need to get a move on it if we’re going to make it to the top in time. We can pack leftovers to eat on the hike.”

 

She eagerly agreed, pushed me off her, and bounded out of bed. We got dressed and were out of the house in 40 minutes arriving at this very parking lot close to 1:30pm.

 

I remember standing behind the back of my car, scarfing down a quick meal with plastic forks from our amazing dinner the night before. I carefully loaded my backpack with water, food, and snacks from the cooler, positive this old Boy Scout was well prepared for our adventure. I would later learn I forgot something extremely important.

 

Before we started our trek into the valley, I told my girlfriend I’d be right back and walked across the road to check out the Mountain Home Inn. It didn’t look like much from the parking lot; a single story three-bedroom house. When I got to the back side of the inn and peered over the edge of the cliff, I was shocked. There, cut into the side of the mountain, were four stories of rooms overlooking Marin and the San Francisco Bay.

 

Mountain Home Inn
© 2024, Inner Child Dimensions, LLC.

 

What a view! My girlfriend had followed me across the street. I stood behind her, arms wrapped around her waist, and secretly planned that someday, I’ll bring her back so we can stay at this very inn.

 

As the memory flashed back in full force, tears stream down my face. Now that will never happen. And the battling negative self-talk in my mind starts.

 

“Never say never.”

 

“I can’t hold onto hope.”

 

“You don’t know the future.”

 

“It happened again. I came on too strong and was oblivious.”

 

“She lost a good thing.”

 

“I lost a good woman.”

 

“I just don’t get it.”

 

“You always push people away.”

 

“I thought we had built a foundation of communication.”

 

“Doesn’t matter. The ones you love always leave.”

 

I turn back to the path. Seven days after my girlfriend agreed to commit to a relationship together, we went on this hike. And now, seven days after we broke up, Rafiki is taking me on it again.

 

My childhood wound had re-opened, and it was gushing blood. It was going to get infected if I didn’t tend to it and this wasn’t helping!

 

My tears turned to anger. Why the fuck did Rafiki take me here? Of all places! Why here?…

Chapter 5