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Watching The Smoke Rise

There came a point where all of the things that I was once passionate about didn't matter anymore. My mind was filled with negative thoughts, and I could not bring myself to be happy. I didn't want to fish , because all the quiet time gave my mind the freedom to ruminate on things, and I would sink even deeper into despair. I no longer wanted to hunt because, truthfully, I didn't know if I could trust myself in the woods with a loaded gun. I hated myself, and everything about me.

My dear wife took the weight of my infirmity on her shoulders. She kept me from completely giving up when I really wanted to. At her request, I finally sought help, and within a few weeks, I started to feel some better. Although I was making progress, I was still hesitant to do things that had brought me so much pleasure before. The strangest feeling of fear and dread would come over me when I would think about my life and what was waiting for me up around the next bend. I know all of this sounds crazy, but if you've ever been there, you know what I'm talking about.

Then, one August afternoon, the fog lifted for a few moments, and I knew exactly what I had to do. I told my wife I would help her pack our things, and I made a phone call to the KOA above Travelers Rest and reserved a tent site. I opened up my storage shed and pulled out our tent and air-mattresses. I found our Coleman lantern and an extra bottle of propane and loaded it all in the back of our car. For the first time in months, I had a sense of purpose.

We unpacked the car and went to work, setting up the tent and getting a fire going for supper. After we ate, my wife and kids and I sat by the fire and watched the flames dance as they consumed the hickory and oak pieces, sending up sparks and a plume of smoke into the canopy of giant hardwoods.

The flame had lulled me into some sort of a trance, and I could feel the smoke washing over me. I felt the smoke begin to draw out of me all of my suffering and sorrow and carry it away, up into the clear night sky. I felt my heart slow and everything within me grew still.

After the fire was out, we crawled into the tent and I unzipped the fly overhead so that I could see the stars through an open spot in the treetops above. I could still smell the woodsmoke and felt the soft breeze drifting in through the open sash. That night, I slept better than I had in months. I had finally found some peace.

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