The Ruins Of Expectations
Driving an hour and a half into a rain cloud isn’t what we’d planned.
But circumstances don’t always match our projection of them.
Ascending the road into the forest preserve, the rain comes in waves – a sheet passes over my truck, followed by a light drizzle only to be tailed by another deluge.
Unpredictable weather, and the near certainty of some rain, makes hiking without rain gear somewhat undesirable, but our surroundings are beautiful whether we are within or without the vehicle.
The plan, of course was outside, but surrounded by trees older than my dead grandparents, grass fresher than a newborn babe, a mist that has circled the world a million times or more, which drifts over the landscape, giving shape to invisible air currents, I can’t help but still be grateful to have made the drive.
We continue our ascent, hoping for a gap in the wet, but at the top gate, the rain begins to pelt – hard. If we can’t leave the truck, might as well park and watch the water cascade down the windshield.
Pak, pak, pak pak pak. It drills the surface of my truck in a rhythm only a jazz musician could make sense of.
It’s beautiful and quiet. Even the birds have fallen silent.
When the rain abets, I roll down the windows and birdsong floods into our ears. In perfect rhythm, the drop and chirps chase each other in crescendo and diminuendo – nature’s symphony.
Satisfied with our stop, but ready to move along, we drive to a trailhead below where the sky has ceased to cry.
“Let’s go.” I say, “Just a little ways.”
And so we do.
50 feet into the trail I look to my right across a green meadow and see a herd of mouflon sheep – white dots half hidden in high grass, stock still and staring at us – and freeze. It’s a bachelor heard, a dozen magnificent racks on display, and they fix their gaze on us with wild intelligence and restrained curiosity.
Holding still, we stare at each other for a while when they decide they’ve had enough exposure and bound up a small mound, disappearing into the trees beyond.
So engrossed in the moment, I don’t even think to take a picture.
We continue our walk, the rain still at bay, when we come upon a cinder quarry. They’ve scraped around several massive tress so they look like floating islands in a sea of ochre. I don’t know whether to be amazed or appalled. This time I remember to take a picture.
Cresting a ridge, the larger quarry comes into view below us, revealing a dug out hillside with striations of red, black, and brown.
3000 ft above sea level, we are deep in the cloud bank, but about halfway down the mountain they taper out and the land and ocean are bathed in light below us.
The contrast is magnificent.
Eventually our rainy respite comes to an end, and we hustle back to the truck – soaked and happy.
I couldn’t tell you that story had we clung to our expectations. I wouldn’t have had the experience if my mind had been closed.
See, circumstances don’t always yield to our vision, but as long as we don’t shut down in disappointment, and instead open ourselves to the adventure of the moment, an unexpected experience can unfold – intricate, beautiful and ephemeral as a spider web. A construct you would never conceive on your own.
Sometimes, the best experiences are born from the ruins of expectations.
Remember that the next time things don’t go your way.
Love and surprises,