The Real Villains of the Story and Other Random Thoughts on the Trail

Random thoughts are mind pops that come suddenly when we were not trying to think over them. My wandering mind seems incapable of going completely idle. It has to answer questions and obtain explanations of the unknown.

Usually, these thoughts are often irrelevant and involuntary to the situation. I know when my mind begins to haphazardly ponder, the things that pop up are weird, upsetting, intriguing, and often outside of common sense or control. They just happen without any apparent triggers most of the time.

Some random thoughts give clarity; few render challenges, while others are just thought-provoking.

Often these unusual and irrelevant things are often intrusive and make me aware of issues, sometimes they are important, and sometimes they are without any significance.

One morning three guys were heading towards me, tattooed, smelling of marijuana, and joking around. My heart rate increased. I was sure they intended to Patty Hurst me. I did the mental calculus, wondering if something happened, and I screamed, would anyone hear.

My mind began going through every flight or fight scenario possible, from figuring out what I could use to shank the big one to peeing myself so I could run faster.

As they got closer, one of the guys smiled kindly and said: “good morning, ma’am!”

Wow! This got me thinking even more thought-provoking random thoughts.

Earlier in my run-walk, I came across a deer in the path. I was about ten feet from her, she simply watched me, waited, and did her own mental calculus. I was actually astonished at how close we came.

Then my earbuds beeped, signaling the next run interval and as I changed pace, the deer was startled and took off through the woods. I realized, at that moment, I was the man, and the deer was me.

I hate that we live in a world where my first instinct was to be hypervigilant of those men for no real reason. I wasn’t afraid, but I was alert and apprehensive… just like I’ve been conditioned to be by the friends, family, and strangers who have had their vulnerability taken advantage of.

Just like that deer that turned and ran when it perceived me as a possible threat.

Even if I didn’t feel physically threatened, I was dreading the moment I came upon the three guys.

But I was wrong.

Today, I’m grateful for people who remind me that most humans really are decent, that kind souls exist, there are others who simply appreciate a beautiful stroll on a path in the woods on a gorgeous day as much as I do.

I am also cognizant of the fact that I am walking through the home of many different non-human creatures. This was their land way before it was ours. Before we overpopulated the world and wildlife didn’t need dedicated space for sanctuary. This is ironic because humans, like me, truly are the villains of their story.

These thoughts just solidified the importance of the Leave No Trace campaign!

What random thoughts do you contemplate while enjoying the solitude of the trail?

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Comments 2

  • Michael Flaherty : May 9th

    Zoe,you are hilarious ! I’m serious.Get an agent.Your perspective is much needed.Self deprecation will get you far.Please keep writing.

  • pearwood : May 15th

    Yeah. It’s all about the people. It’s what I miss most from having to pull off the trail early.
    Blessings on your way.
    Steve / pearwood


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