Dear twelve-year-old me,
Remember the wind in your hair as you ride your bike around the neighborhood, and the bliss of chasing friends, siblings, and cousins at the park, through the woods, and over mountains? Running will become your true freedom; your most loyal of friends. It will save your life and see you through the most difficult of times.
Within the next year, you will fall into a darkness so deep the possibility of a happy ending will never even occur to you. The existence of a warm heart and soaring soul will be a faded dream. You will lose touch with the places you love; the woods, the streams, the mountains, and lakes. As incredible as it seems you will lose your connection with the earth, your love of dirt between your toes and sifting through your fingers, the sun on your bare skin, and the rain tickling your face.
It will be years before you find these things again, but they have never left you and are waiting for you to return. The mountain trails of the Wasatch Front will be come your home away from home. They will become your comfort, your therapist, your peace, and your clarity.
The trails will teach you patience, mindfulness, forgiveness, and acceptance. They will heal your deepest scars because on the trail you are strong and complete. There is no judgement in the wild. Every tree and every flower is beautiful just the way it is and so are you.
Running will give you confidence to take on any challenge and fortitude to accomplish your goals. You will find grace in a face plant; warmth in the snow; rooted in the clouds. Running will be more than a pastime, hobby, or a way to stay fit. It will become much more than you ever imagined weaving itself among the very core of who you are.
The hours and hours you spend alone in the mountains will remind you how much you have to be grateful for in your life—health, friendships, family, education, financial means, and living in a place where you have the opportunity to run.
You will work through major and minor injuries carefully trying to balance your mental need to be on the mountain and your physical need to heal. There will be anger, frustration and many tears, but running is not going anywhere. It waits for you and the reunion will bring more tears, those of joy.
You will see the world as a child sees the world—an exciting adventure with discoveries around every bend. This perception will spread to many aspects of your life. All of the lessons running teaches you will make you a better friend, mom, advocate, significant other, daughter, and member of society.
I wish you could have found it sooner, but know it is always waits for your return.