A Walk To Remember

It’s hard to find yourself anywhere other than the center of the equation sometimes.

In your small world of who you know, what you see, and how you feel, it’s easy to get caught up in the “Me, Myself, and I” mentality. I found myself doing that this week. Even on vacation in Fort Walton, I found myself anxious and worrisome over every detail of my life without stepping back to see a bigger picture. For someone who used to preach that “it’s a bad day, not a bad life”, I sure wasn’t practicing the philosophy. I became hateful, sour, bitter, and resentful — all attributes I knew weren’t true to my heart.

Then I found myself here. Here is Amelia Island, Florida. Here is a quaint getaway locale that still treasures the small-town feel. Here is where a neighbor greets you by saying “welcome to paradise” and meaning every word of it.

I’ve embarked on a journey of rediscovering myself. Or maybe instead of “rediscovering”, I’m aiming to be the best version of myself possible. I want to be unshakeable in my independence, indubitably fueled with drive, and overflowing with love for even those who don’t love me.

In order for the change to begin, there was no better way to begin my weeks in Amelia Island than visiting Kingsley Plantation. Every time my family comes to the island to visit our friend Susan, she mentions wanting to explore that area, but we never get around to it. However, I think the timing of my first visit there was perfect.

After driving miles through Florida’s beautiful wooded areas — my favorites are oak trees covered in Spanish moss — I arrived at a place unlike anything I had ever seen. Former slave quarters built from tabby (burnt oyster shells mixed with sand, water, and oysters) stood against the test of time, providing a visual of what life was like for the enslaved people of Kingsley Plantation. Shackles were on display in the slave owners dwelling. A one room church had signs discussing “A Life as Property” with no choices or freedoms. Visuals along the plantation showed how many acres an individual was in charge of overseeing.

Walking the grounds put into perspective how insignificant my problems were. I mean shoot, I spent the past week working on my tan and my fried shrimp filled belly yet I wanted to complain! How selfish am I to think my life is so terrible to live when I am walking the same paths slaves walked on during their lives they dreaded waking up to everyday? How selfish am I to be so inconsiderate of those who still live lives they dread waking up to everyday?

The gist of this whole blurb about my personal life is this: my walk along the plantation was my walk to remember. It started pushing me back into a less self-oriented perspective. And sometimes, history does that. For me, walking the grounds was a reality check.

If you ever find yourself in this situation, I encourage you to find your Kingsley Plantation. Go where your heart and mind can heal, and where you are reminded you are not the first to feel how you feel and you won’t be the last. Go to church and listen to the echoes of the sanctuary’s voices praising God through song. Go to somewhere you’ve never been or somewhere you always go. Go to the library and read your favorite childhood book. Go to a historical site. Go hike the mountain and watch the birds fly out of the trees… and remember, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your father. Even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore, you are of more value than many sparrows. Matthew 10:29-31”

Go where you need to go to get through the day. Take your walk to remember.

“For what it’s worth:

It’s never too late, or in my case too early, to be whoever you want to be.

There’s no time limit. Start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same. There are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you’ve never felt before. I hope you meet people who have a different point of view.

I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.”

-Eric Roth

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