Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

Publications

Summer, Old Trail

Res Publica

August 2007

by Stacey Sadowski

I lay in bed. A soft cloud for a pillow relaxed my head. The warmth of my blanket embraced me and kept me safe from the world. My arms wrapped around my childhood toy raccoon, and my headphones softly played the “sweet sweet sound” in my ear. As Billy Joel sang the enchanting melody of “Summer, Highland Falls,” I was immersed with joy. The feeling ran through my every vein as it was carried from my heart to my toes. As it consumed me, I lay back in euphoria, unable to move or to halt the occurrence, even if I wanted to. In that moment I could have been content for the rest of my life. Life was perfect, and nothing could touch me as I lay wrapped in ecstasy.

I began to reflect. Life is a tangle of emotions: joy, sadness, fear, anticipation, excitement, surprise, and anger, all affecting us in different ways. But as we look back upon our lives, we remember it in either one of two ways, as Billy Joel describes: “[A]s we stand upon the ledges of our lives, / With our respective similarities / It’s either sadness or euphoria.” Though one can still feel all of the other emotions from life, one of the two occurs at the ledges. Would one live that part of their life again if they could? Would one stop time to live in that part of their life forever? If we have succumbed to the world and look back upon our lives with sadness, it is regrettable. If, however, when we look back we experience a feeling of euphoria, it is beautiful. As we stand upon the ledges of our lives, we will feel sadness or euphoria.

A short time ago I experienced a ledge in my life. It was as if my life was a great canyon, full of everything I had ever experienced. I felt that as I lived life, every portion was a run through this canyon. Each tangent started where the last had ended, but the next pass across it would take me to a new destination. I would start on one ledge and run to the other side. When running, I would feel joy and sorrow and every other emotion one experiences in life. I was so immersed in the meat of my life that all I could do was feel. I could not stop running to try and understand my emotions. As I emerged from the activities of this portion of my life, I paused at the ledge of the canyon. I had time to look down into my life and reflect on what I had experienced. The canyon was full of dark forests, winding streams, and sunlit paths: the myriad of experiences that I had encountered. From the ledge I realized I could not change the past but only reflect upon it.

The road twisted like a snake, and we swayed back and forth as the turns unfolded. It was a warm late summer day. The sun shown warmly in through the windows of the old mini-van. Our destination was one of beauty and serenity. However, we often had visited it with much pain and tribulation. We were on our way to the site of our cross country practices which we would no longer attend, as we had graduated and were very soon to move on to the next phase of our lives. Old Trail was a beautiful combination of woods, fields, paths, and lakes. One could look across the sun-struck pool and see the rolling hills covered in bright green trees and the grassy meadows full of fresh fall wildflowers. We had always said that after high school was over, we were going to come here and enjoy the place for the beauty of it and not let the hundreds of miles that had been run there cross our minds. Now it was finally happening. The endless fall days to be spent there were no longer endless. We were moving on. And as we stood upon a ledge of our lives, we looked back with joy over what we had experienced.

The summer after my senior year in high school was a strange one in that no longer was I a student of Revere High School, but nor did I belong to the age of college students. I was in between a place where I had been and a place where I was going. The time was reflective for all of us, a time to look upon what had happened. Katie was to leave for college within days, and soon Kelsey and I would be gone too. My two best friends and I were to split like we had never done before. Though there was a feeling of excitement and anticipation for all of us, life would never be the same. As we twisted further down the road, the radio changed songs to Margaritaville. Jimmy Buffet sang of warm summer days “Strummin’ my six string.” Overcome with joy, we all broke out into song. I have very few memories with my two best friends that are more prevalent in my mind than this one. The day was perfect, and we had no choice but to become immersed in the joy that radiated throughout the car. Though the three of our paths had always run close together, at this moment we had all stopped at the same ledge in bliss. We were in true euphoria, as we had every happy memory of the past to relive with our best friends and anticipation for what was to come. We were excited about the changes and new opportunities that waited for us. Time could have stopped and life would have been perfect. For me, this ledge of my life was euphoria.

Stacey Sadowski is a freshman from Copley, Ohio, majoring in History and Political Science.

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