By Danaé Reid
I’ve been extremely vocal about the ways in which I have struggled mentally and emotionally as a result of this pandemic, but it seems that I’ve finally started to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
A breakdown I had a few weeks ago threw me into a spiral that almost brought me back home to Pennsylvania indefinitely, but after spending a week’s time with my family, doing the things I love to do, and having what I consider to be a breakthrough therapy session, I welcomed New York back into my heart with open arms as she did me.
The concept of taking care of yourself in all areas of life seems fairly commonplace, but as I’m sure you all know that sometimes it can be the hardest task at hand, especially when you’re experiencing anxiety and depression that feels exceptionally foreign from anything you’re used to.
Upon my return to the city, three other Black women and myself decided to go for a self-care hike in the name of mental stimulation and healing — it was one of the best things I’ve ever done.
Everything was so spur of the moment, and yet no hiccup dared to threaten the euphoria I felt that day.
The drive from Brooklyn to the Delaware Water Gap —where our hike took place — was about an hour and a half long, and for the entirety of the car ride we bonded over what’s going on the world, within our worlds, sang along to music, sat in silence etc., and for the first time in I’m not sure how long, I didn’t feel so alone; alone in my thoughts, alone in proximity, and so on.
Here I am, in a car with three other Black women who’ve been feeling the exact same way I had, yet had we not opened the floor for dialogue, the potential of that moment would’ve faded into oblivion.
I’d never been on an actual hike before, but I’d been dying to go for quite some time, so our arrival at the difficult trail filled me with an insatiable joy that even the steepest if inclines couldn’t dissuade.
For a January, the trail was pretty busy, but everyone we passed was kind and extremely pleasant to our group.
I’ve always had such an appreciation for nature; the trees, the plants, the streaming water, but rocks, —especially eroded or eroding rocks — have always fascinated me to no end –Ththeir colors, their shapes..
As one might imagine, a hike up the side of a mountain is bound to bring many different rocks into focus, but I’d venture to say that the majority of the rocks on this path were these colossal, dinosaur egg looking varieties that were all hues of purples, greens, and grays.
We walked past frozen lakes, still ponds, under a natural tree bridge, through mud, and a million other minute details that made the trip amongst one of the most peaceful experiences I’ve ever had. Not only was the scenery breathtaking, but what I took from said experience was so valuable.
Because the trail was difficult, we had to stop a few times, but the spirit of quitting never entered my mind — regret briefly —but never quitting. In some way, the mountain felt like a reflection of life and everything that I’m going through right now.
I know this sounds extremely cliche, but life is very much like a hike up a steep mountain. There’s beauty all around you, but there’s also a lot of difficult moments as well. What you choose to focus your energy on is up to you.
After about 2.5ish miles, and I’m not sure how much time, we reached the top and the view was much better than words could possibly describe. My friends and I took photos, reveled in the moment, played some classic R&B hits, and allowed ourselves to take in the simple beauty of life and relishing in the joy and accomplishment we felt in achieving our goal of making it to the top in one piece.
The return to the starting point was much easier for me, but I noticed that I talked much less. I guess I wanted to take in the moment and enjoy what was left of the experience. Truthfully, I’ve been on a “hiker’s high” ever since then, and that experience is something I’ll treasure forever. The laughs, the truth, the vulnerability, the friendship, the Black excellence… It’s something that we all need in our lives, especially now.
I slept wonderfully that night, and although my legs are still trying to recuperate, I’m looking forward to our next “Black women’s self-care” trip.
Reminder: Do that thing that you’ve been wanting to do… A happier life is waiting for you on the other side.