“Human beings can’t bear silence. It would mean that they would bear themselves.”

~ Pascal Mercie, Night Train to Lisbon

 

Chapter 1 Recap:

In the face of Phoenix’s initial hesitance and amidst his recent breakup, Rafiki successfully persuades him to undertake the daunting hike he and his girlfriend conquered last Labor Day. Rafiki’s insightful counsel, centered around attuning oneself to nature, marks the commencement of a series of valuable lessons. These lessons unfold during the physical rigors and emotional self-discovery that characterize the journey through Muir Woods National Monument, culminating at the majestic summit of Mt. Tamalpias.

 

 


The Drive

 

…“A wise man does not become wise when he stops listening to the seasons,” Rafiki mumbled, throwing his staff in my car next to mine, the one he gave me on Father’s Day 2017. Leaping in the front seat and slapping his fury hand on the top of the dash, he excitedly exclaimed, “Come. Come. No time to waste. The light of day this time of year is short.”

 

I climb in my car, and we speed down the highway in silence.

 

I can feel Rafiki’s excitement looking forward to another adventure. His energy is upbeat, joyful, longing to experience the beauty of life.

 

I’m still contemplative, withdrawn, and nervous to talk with him. While I get a lot out of our conversations, sometimes he can be more challenging than my therapist, many times it can be exhausting.

 

Fuck! Is that how I was around my ex-girlfriend? Was my energy that exhausting?

 

I need to break the tension.

 

“I couldn’t stop laughing during the Saturday Men’s meeting,” I blurted into the silence, “when the chairman gave his share and mentioned how he loved that the speaker started off his First Step using humor saying he went to pray out loud and said, ‘Hey Siri’ instead. Then, a few seconds later, Siri on the chairman’s phone answers loudly ‘Here’s a playlist for Eminem.”

 

Rafiki slaps his knee, laughs, and snickers, “Yep,” then continues to stare ecstatically at the scenery passing by. More silence.

 

Why is it so hard for me to sit in silence with another?

 

I start again, “I can’t believe I spilled Coke on my MacBook Pro the day before my girlfriend broke up with me. Two whammies at once.”

 

Not breaking his stare at the rolling countryside, speckled green due to the recent rains Rafiki questions, “Didn’t your ex-wife used to call your computer your first wife?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“So, you lost the two most important things you value in one day.”

 

“Wait! No! That’s not true.”

 

“Is it?” He turns and looks at me, questioning my response.

 

“My daughters are the two most important people in my life!” I declare. He knows that is true.

 

“Tu-shay. I’ll give you that.” After a pause he quietly adds under his breath, “But the other two were a very close third and fourth.” That comment hangs in the stillness.

 

More silence.

 

My insides are crawling. What is he thinking? Why isn’t he talking? What did I do wrong? This silence is deafening, and my anxiety increases giving me a sense of unease and forbearing.

 

Somehow reading my thoughts while pressing his face against the passenger side window, as if he could see any better getting closer to it, Rafiki declares, “Maybe this is the lesson the universe wants you to learn.”

 

We drive the last 35 minutes in silence…

 

To truly listen, one must listen to the silence. ~ Phoenix Emery Share on X

 

 

Chapter 3

 

 

I’m grateful I’ve learned how to manage arguments between my two daughters. This last one, I did not engage, acknowledged each of them so they both felt heard, and offered a solution that worked for all three of us. I did not get angry, however there was a consequence. My youngest daughter and I would not get to watch Thor, the next movie in our Marvel chronological series. I’m grateful I stood true to my word and not only did she do four hours straight of math homework sitting next to me while I was working on my Challenges, we watched Thor the following evening when she had caught up with all her assignments. I’m also grateful she agreed to do an hour yoga with me as long as I joined her in Just Dance. We only got four songs in because her sister needed last minute assistance on a project. I’m glad my daughter was accommodating and allowed me to give the time her sister requested.

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I’m grateful for one full week of check ins with my youngest daughter. This has been a way for us to stay accountable with our goals for the day (she really needed to catch up with some past due homework and I had a ton of old boxes to go through that I got when my ex and I closed down the storage unit we shared). The storage unit is one less bill I’m grateful I no longer have to pay. Due to being accountable with my daughter, I was able to finish going through my boxes, got rid of a ton of stuff, donated a lot to charity, and put all the boxes up on the shelves I had built in summer. Such a feeling of accomplishment when I have a clean garage.

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