WARNING- contains upsetting description of a dead cat. I suggest only reading if you’re emotionally in a good space to receive such a story.
Two weeks ago I saw a dead cat on the side of the road. I smelled it before I saw it, but nothing could have prepared me for the scene – one I could barely avoid stepping on due to a small shoulder and heavy traffic. The cat’s eyes were open, stomach split, and intestines were spread on the pavement.
Nauseous at the sight, I did my best to get around it without putting myself in way of cars, took a deep breath once beyond the stench, and started crying.
I cried out of shock and fear for what I had seen. I cried for the loss of a life that may have been a family pet. I cried because when you’re walking 25 miles on pavement, with too many cars to hear yourself think, all the ugly of the world feels so much closer, personal.
Of course, that personal relationship applies to the beauty of the world all the same – the sunrises that make me feel like I’m floating, the hawks that call and kettle above me, the group of kids playing soccer that brought tears to my eyes. These moments of ugliness and moments of beauty sometimes happen within the same morning, same hour, or even simultaneously.
This morning someone asked me what the hardest part of the walk has been so far. That’s a question I get regularly, and I always seem to have a different answer. Today, surprising myself with my own response, I said it’s the extreme range of emotions I experience within each day. I also said that that challenge is one of the most amazing gifts of the journey, and I believe both to be true.
Tonight is New Year’s Eve. I am in a warm bed in Tucson and will soon fall asleep (well before midnight) to the sound of church bells ringing, train horns sounding, dogs barking, and fireworks popping. I am allowing myself to feel the simultaneous joy for 2020 ending and grief for the loss we experienced as a human race this year. Thinking of those who have lost loved ones this year, and hoping for a 2021 filled with changes toward a healthier world.
Happy New Year 🌍