For Whatever Lies Ahead.

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Stand in my shoes for a second. You’re standing on a hill above the Pacific, maybe an hour north of San Francisco. You kayaked here from a bay, across unexpectedly choppy water. Your arms are sore. You set up camp on the beach, and then you start hiking up this hill. You’re not sure how far away the Pacific is, but it’s there, you think, somewhere beyond the ridge. The hill rises straight up out of the bay. You go, up and up. At the top of the ridge is a fence, and you climb that. Beyond is what looks like miles and miles of nothing. Clouds, perhaps?

No, your friends tell you. The Pacific.

You walk closer, across the hill. It’s more clear from here. You look south. You’re so high up, the waves don’t seem to move. They’re frozen, rising but never breaking along the beach. The fog is moving in. You can see the path down the coastline, the hills breaking into cliffs, the cliffs diving into the Pacific. There is a narrow stretch of beach that rolls all the way south. The coast does not end; it fades into the fog. You can see a large, black mass in the distance. You cannot tell what it is, or see it clearly through the fog. But you know whatever it is, it’s there.

Imagine following that path, down the cliffs, down the beach, down to whatever lies beyond that fog. From this vantage point, you could look back, sure, and see the journey already traveled, and you can look forward just a little bit — just a few miles down the coast. Beyond that, the fog, and whatever happens next. There is a path, absolutely, but you don’t know where it leads, or how far it leads you.

Imagine yourself on that path: the Pacific on one side, the cliffs on another, the fog, and the road unknown ahead.

Ask yourself: If you were brave enough to go on that path, who would you bring with you?

I know what I would want: Someone to laugh with on the thousands of steps ahead; someone for support when the steps slowed; someone with the joy and the curiosity to push us onward. I’d bring Sally; I cannot imagine the path without her. She’s the best I know.

But who would you bring? Who would you want with you for the next thousand steps, and beyond? Who would you want for when the path gets strange, when the journey demands everything you can give?

Stand in my shoes for a second, and imagine the first of those steps, and the people you’ll need to get to whatever lies beyond the fog — and whatever lies beyond that. Imagine it. This is the path, and for whatever comes next, you’ll need the best people you have to travel it.

OK?

Onward.

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That photo of the Pacific coastline — and whatever lies ahead — comes via Unsplash and photographer Sebastien Gabriel.