Novella: Installment #8: Walking the Earth


Josephine had an interesting conversation with a close friend over some Tex Mex on a Saturday afternoon. It was a late night call, depression and all of the things he should have done over the years of marriage. Watching someone he loves leave him with a note after decades of marriage – and turn to a guy she dated briefly in High School. For Josey, she just didn’t want to see him drive himself to living under a bridge.

Josey couldn’t answer him. She didn’t know what the final tipping point was that sent his wife away. All she could see was the devastation and remorse for what he suspected the answer was to his own questions. Hers wasn’t a marriage like they had for all of those years. Josey’s wasn’t anything like that – hers was a false front to shield out the great lie. All she could do was look at her friend and try to help him through this horrible time.

What do you do when your life, your love, your everything…as you have built it up to this point…changes? The wheels are spinning so fast – that somehow – you’ve been ejected out of your own life – and it’s time to build a new one. Something all yours.

You are floating around, with everything around you up in the air, and you really, truly don’t know where to land. Whereas before you had the energy, the endurance to circle around, contemplating your landing…now, you are running out of fuel…and the emergency lights and sirens are flashing. It’s time to come out of suspension, and either land gently or experience a hard crash. Where will you land, how will you land, and what will land with you as you settle?

Josephine knew that first and foremost…we have God, our Maker, as her friend liked to call Him. Josey has Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost. Although our way may not be clear…and we don’t understand why in the Hell this had to happen to us…what the big picture is currently, or in our future…it is a path – a future – that God will walk with us, guiding and directing our lives. Our culpability in all of this…faith and obedience.

We have our children, and our family. Our children and our family love us, as we love them – eternally. And, unless we do something really, really stupid and selfish…something irredeemable in their eyes…they are ours for life. Our children and family are our gift from God, and they will land with us.

Josephine had learned from personal experience that our landscape of friends sometimes changed both when we floated, and when we landed. Friends are tricky. You find out a lot about who your friends are when things blow up, and when they settle back down. Josey remembered when her status changed, when she was no longer invited to holiday parties, and excluded from social gatherings. She learned dynamics about people that surprised and then sometimes devastated her. Dynamics change and you find out exactly what kind of a friend you are to them…and they are to you. You will edit, delete, add and expand. As you settle into your new life…your circle of friends…both old and new…will enlighten and brighten your world, or they will leave it…sometimes permanently.

“What is it that you want to do? Are you challenged at work?”

“No, I am doing the things I need to do to maintain, but I am several years away from setting new career goals.”

“What is that you want?”

Josephine’s friend told her…”I want to walk the Earth.”

As Josey sat listening to the words come out of his mouth…she looked at his face, at the deep fatigue and stress etched all over it. She looked into his eyes, and the spark was gone. His body language was stoic and defeated. The tone of his voice hopeless, riddled with the exhaustion that too much alcohol and sleep deprivation bring.

She saw a deep sadness, at the great loss of a lifetime’s work, a lifetime’s love. The physical calm after a great, torrential storm. Numb depression.

She saw strength, based in faith and intelligence and she thought…”Thank you, God”…for that. For she knew, that even the strongest could break, even the faithful could get lost, even the intelligent could have understanding elude them. She knew her friend had emotional intelligence coupled with everything else…so she knew he wouldn’t break…that his inner strength would prevail.

She also saw a spark of something…in the way he held himself…in the way he processed everything going on around him. It seemed like an awareness that he was changing rapidly…and deep seeded dreams were popping up…and deep seeded uncertainties were trying to emerge. And she thought…”Your mind is a battlefield…stay strong…hold on to your dreams…hold on to who you are…remember, be yourself.”

So…Josephine and her friend ordered another drink. She knew that they couldn’t solve his anguish and depression by talking. And it was obvious, he was done talking…he had switched to self preservation.

“Josey, I just want to walk the Earth”

He wanted to go out into the world and experience life, new people, places, and things. He wanted to explore and be quiet, all at the same time. Peace and contentment.

Josephine understood everything that he was saying…and not saying. She understood. And that sometimes, it feels like you are literally…crawling out of your skin. It’s hard to sit down, it’s hard to stand still. Sometimes, sleep eludes us to the point that no pharmaceutical can conquer it. We are surrounded by people telling us truths…”you will survive this”…”you will find happiness again”…”this too shall pass.” They tell us so much…out of love…out of personal experience. We know the truth…but we are just not living it yet. We are neither here nor there. Life is in limbo, after our world has been torn apart.

And what about “walking the Earth”?

You could literally…”walk the Earth”…travel and soak up the experiences of a lifetime. You could take your time to look around…”walk the Earth”…try stuff on and see how it fits…life, love, and peace. You could also use it to heal…”walk the Earth”…and allow yourself time to heal, mourn your loss…find contentment…sleep peaceful each night. Josephine wanted her friend to “walk the Earth”…for as many reasons, and in as many ways as he possibly needed. God had a bigger plan for him than this half life he was living.

maxfield-parrishOur Josephine, she had been here before…and had walked the Earth many years ago. She believed in it, knowing that each person faces the need at their own predestined time. Josephine knew that every conversation, every moment, every relationship, every friend happens for a reason – and that God moves people in and out of our life according to His plan.

Josephine thought about what loomed on her horizon. She thought about the good and the bad. She thought about what she had been through up until this point, what might happen, and what she wanted. Josey knew that it was time for her to “walk the Earth” again and the knowledge of this burst through her like a bubble of pure happiness. It was her time…again.

The last time she had been hurled into her walk, she had grown by leaps and bounds. She had experienced a period of personal growth and accomplishment, coupled with disappointments and growing pains. She had found peace and contentment. God had guided and directed her throughout it all. Her biggest challenge…staying the course – struggling between her ideas of creating stability and yet, living with independence and a wild spirit. God had brought her to Him…giving her the knowledge that she could be obedient to Him…and still be the unique spirit that He had created.

It was her time…again. Josephine knew that on top of walking the Earth…she’d hop, skip and jump all through it. That her time had come, and so much was unfolding right before her eyes. She felt like a million dollar race horse, ready to shoot out…and run so hard…so fast…until she fell down…exhausted but happy…the winner of her life.

Josephine knew that it would soon be her time. Matter of fact, yesterday she drove past the old, historical building she had been dreaming about for years. Tomorrow she’d just go check it out and peek in through the boarded up windows.

And as was customary in Josey’s world, only red shoes would do.