You are allowed, at any time, to start again.
Gravel slipped into my flats one piece at a time until I felt a small mountain biting into my heel. The Canal was empty – it seemed everyone was tucked inside, celebrating with their loved ones, while I wandered down the trail. I didn’t mind the silence. There’s something centering about being in nature alone, as if the air fills your lungs differently when you travel by yourself.
I felt whole for the first time in months.
Dead leaves crunched under my feet. Sections of the Canal were bone-dry, others were swampy messes. The trees, naked and stalwart, guarded every bend in the path. We were thoroughly lodged in fall, though distinct memories of a lingering summer were still fresh in my mind.
I wandered for an hour, curious under the November sun.
My jacket blew open with the wind as I traced the mountains blocking the horizon. The sky was blue – too blue, if I’m being honest. An unhealthy color for this time of year. And I thought about everything I couldn’t write down: my confusion in love, the balance between honesty and desperation, the idea that the Universe might be sending signs to direct my actions (or worse, that no one was directing my actions but me). Then I did something truly remarkable.
I gave myself permission to fail. But more importantly, I gave myself permission to start again.
In that moment, it made all the difference. A breath I didn’t realize I was holding flooded through my lips in a single gust until there was nothing left in my chest. I was empty, but in the way that mugs are empty – which is to say, I am ready to be filled with goodness once again. The thought made me smile, winter barely catching on my teeth as I ambled home.