Even now, as Eva sat in the roadside diner on Route 40, the recollection of her last day at work brought an ear-to-ear grin to her face. On the day of her thirty-fifth birthday, she had walked into her managing director’s office and handed him her resignation from her job as creative director of one of L.A.’s most renowned advertizing agencies. Doug just stood there gobsmacked and took the news from his most valued and successful employee without the slightest hint of emotion. He had not seen Eva’s announcement coming and was too busy processing the news to feel anything yet. Fifteen years of working closely together had come to an abrupt end.
Sheryl Crow – If It Makes You Happy
Even so, Eva did not have any regrets whatsoever. Her father’s words when she was a young girl echoed in her mind: ‘Life is for living, Evangelina’. Too right, she said to herself, as that was what had motivated her to take such a different turn in her life, and so suddenly. Had it been so sudden? Eva knew full well it had not. Her decision had come to her when she looked in the mirror early one Monday morning and asked out loud the most honest question she had ever asked herself: ‘Is this really what I want?’. The tears pouring down her face provided her with the answer.
Eva took another sip of her orange juice followed by a bite of her tuna sandwich. Although she could not quite put her finger on it, something deep down told her that she had been very unhappy for a long time now. No one had understood her decision to pack it all in. She could not blame them, really. She had led a seemingly perfect life; the career, the big fancy penthouse and everything else she could wish for. Granted, she had not met the love of her life, but that had been a small price to pay for her independence. Eva smirked. Who was she kidding? What man would have wanted her, a woman barely in touch with her feelings whose sole purpose in life seemed to be outdoing herself at her job?
Eva sighed. She could only guess at the destination of her spur-of-the-moment hitch-hiking trip, and yet, she felt relieved. Its purpose would reveal itself soon enough. Right now, she just enjoyed the moment and the thrill of adventure. Thinking about it sent her heart racing. She wondered if the other guests in the diner sensed what she felt, but a quick look around told her they had not. She smiled, as she got up and went to the counter to pay for her food and drinks. Then, after greeting the friendly waitress at the till, she strode outside to be greeted by the bright sunlight and the open road stretching out before her into the distance.
“Where ya headed?” the middle-aged truck driver asked through the lowered window as he drove his Mack on to the wayside where Eva stood holding her thumb up.
“I don’t really know,” Eva replied. “Back home, I guess,” she joked with a smile, unaware of the truth in her words.
“Well, I’m driving to Winslow and there’s some mighty fine country along the way you can feast your eyes on.”
Images of red rock formations with eagles flying high above came to Eva’s inner eye. Without the slightest hesitation, she climbed onto the passenger seat and looked forward in great expectation to where this trip would lead her.
“Stop!” Eva yelled after they had been driving for almost an hour.
The truckie brought his rig to a brake-screeching halt near a picnic spot in a national park.
“What the ...!” he shouted, clearly startled by Eva’s spontaneous outburst.
“Sorry,” she responded, giggling. “I didn’t mean to surprise you like that.”
The truckie wiped the sweat from his brows and laughed his nerves away.
“That’s alright, lady. But, are you sure you wanna get out here?”
“Yep, dead certain,” Eva answered.
“Have you got enough water with you?”
“Yes, about three litres.”
The truckie frowned. Three litres was not much to go on in these temperatures, but by the decisive look on his passenger’s face, he knew he was not going to be able to change her mind.
“It’s your show,” he said. “If you run out of water, get into the shade and wait for the next driver who comes along,” he went on to advise her.
“I’ll be okay,” Eva replied climbing down on to the bitumen that glistened from the heat. “But thanks anyway for your kindness,” she said, as she smiled up at the truckie and shut the door.
While she followed the red, sandy hiking trail, Eva was grateful for the big straw hat she was wearing. It was well into the afternoon and still the sun beat down mercilessly on everything that dared to venture outside. She stopped for a moment to look around. There was not a living soul in sight, except for a lizard that scampered across the red-hot sand to its hiding place beneath a rock. The heat began to tire Eva, who almost wished she had stayed in the air conditioned compartment of the truck. She comforted herself with the thought of the view that the visitor information board had held in store for her. She smiled. What more could I want, she said to herself, as she refreshed herself with a few gulps of water. Finally, she felt what she had not felt in years. She felt alive.
Robbie Williams – Feel
This feeling became almost overwhelming when Eva arrived at the end of the trail near the top of an escarpment. In front of her lay a rocky desert landscape in a variety of red and yellow hues.
“Wow!” Eva gasped, taking in the breathtaking view.
Tears of gratitude began to roll down her cheeks. She placed her hand on her heart and stood there for well over half an hour, deeply moved. In her awe, she had lost all track of time, so that when she decided it was time to go back, the sun was already spreading it’s evening glow across the land. She realized how foolhardy she had been to just go into the wilderness like that without thinking ahead. Where am I going to spend the night, she wondered.
The question had barely crossed her mind, when seemingly out of nowhere, a wolf turned up. It looked up at her as if to say: ‘Follow me. I’ll show you a great spot to stay,’ and then walked away from her. Intuitively, Eva followed it, and to her surprise, it disappeared into some bushes before a low rock face. Once she got behind the bushes, Eva understood what the wolf had meant, as in front of her she saw a small opening in the rock. Somewhat hesitantly, she wriggled herself through the crevice, not knowing what to expect inside.
What Eva saw next, stopped her dead in her tracks. Speechless, she looked around her in what appeared to be a cavern with a hole in the ceiling, through which sunlight came flooding in. Such was her awe, that at first, she did not notice the cavern’s other occupant. Which is why she was startled by the appearance of a young Navajo girl dressed in traditional costume. The girl was sitting on her haunches by a small fire. She stopped tending to the fire and stood up to greet Eva.
“Hi,” she said with a friendly look on her face.
“Hi,” Eva replied, still dazzled.
“Come and join me,” the girl beckoned.
“Thank you,” Eva said and walked towards the girl.
“I am called Kai,” the girl said when Eva stood before her. “My name means willow tree.”
“That’s a wonderful name. It seems very fitting. My name is Evangelina, but they call me Eva.”
“Welcome,” Kai said. “Come and sit with me by the fire.”
Eva accepted Kai’s invitation and found a spot for herself, about half a metre away from Kai.
“I was told when I woke up this morning that you would be coming,” Kai said.
Eva was unable to hide her surprise, but said nothing.
“The spirit of the willow tree whispered it to me from the world of my dreams,” Kai explained. “You have set out on a journey. A journey within you that will lead you back home to your spirit.”
“How will I know what path to take?” Eva asked, as she became more and more curious about this mysterious young girl.
“Follow the light. The light will show you the way.”
Eva found it hard to fully understand what Kai meant, but deep down she believed her.”
“You must have faith, sister,” Kai said, as if she was reading Eva’s thoughts.
Eva nodded and by doing so, she already began to feel more confident.
“Once you are on your way home, it will be your task to help others to find their way back home also.”
Eva smiled. She now started to comprehend her sudden decision to leave her old life behind and head for the road. Destiny had big plans for her. Sensing this, she was overcome by sheer joy.
Later that evening, Eva lay down by the fire and fell asleep to the pleasant sound of Kai’s humming. That night she dreamed of her childhood when her parents took her and her elder brother on a camping trip to Arizona. She was instantly reminded of where her love of red desert sand and rock formations had originated from. It was a pleasant dream that filled her with a feeling that she had not felt in a long time. It was a feeling she could not put her finger on, but that was okay. She woke up smiling and looked towards the spot where Kai had sat, only to discover that Kai was gone.
“Kai!” she cried out as she sat upright, rubbing the sleep from her eyes.
There was no answer. Then, as her eyes adjusted to the light, Eva gasped in surprise. Where Kai had sat last night, there now stood a young willow tree. It seemed as if it was following the faint rays of morning light that shone inside through the hole in the ceiling of the cavern.
“Kai,” she whispered with a warm smile.
Then Eva remembered what Kai had told her last night. She wasted no time in following up on Kai’s advice. She scrambled on to her feet, hoisted her backpack on to her back and left the cavern. Then she followed the trail that led to the escarpment again. When she arrived, she was just in time to see the sun peeking over the rocky landscape on the horizon. She stood still, placed her hand on her heart and closed her eyes. A deep sense of tranquility came over her and filled her to her very core.
“Hmm,” she sighed.
A warm and gentle breezed picked up, making Eva open her eyes. What was that sound? She pricked up her ears to make out what it was. Then the sound became clearer. It sounded like a voice. It was a voice. Kai’s voice whispering in the wind:
“Follow the light...”
Eva smiled with tears of joy welling up in her eyes. Now she understood the feeling she had had in her dream.
“I am born again. Thank you for showing me that, Kai.”
He was born in the summer of his twenty-seventh year
Coming home to the place he’d never been before
He left yesterday behind him
You might say he was born again
You might say he found the key to every door
From ‘Rocky Mountain High’ by John Denver
John Denver – Rocky Mountain High
‘Tree In Cave’; photographer unknown
‘Road’ by jplenio on Pixabay
‘Mexican Grey Wolf’ by Mike Goad on Pixabay
‘Hiking’ by Esudroff on Pixabay
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