When I need to quiet the demons in my head — and believe me, they are loud — I walk.
Usually some form of a hike. And a hike for me is anything in dirt form that tilts slightly uphill.
In Studio City we have this canyon called Fryman that I and many others hike (again, a tilted hill). I mean, this is not Israel’s Masada mountain we’re climbing—now that’s a hike. I know because I did it.
But in sunny Studio City where the streets are flat and the hopeful actresses aren’t, we consider Fryman Canyon one of our very best hiking areas. I usually toss on my sweats, a pair of sneaks, torn shirt, grab my dog (who looks way better than me) and we hit it.
On this particular day I really needed to meditate on my walk. Clear my head. Quiet the voices that were telling me I was going to be homeless soon if I didn’t get a gig and my daughter will have to live with my ex, and soon she won’t remember who I am, and I will be walking the streets carrying around an old, torn wallet-sized photograph of the daughter I once had but lost because my Pauly Shore movie residuals finally ran out.
TO THE HILLS I GO!
Now, I don’t walk with an iPod or headset or cell phone or any other gadget. Just me, the dog and my car keys. I seek silence. I seek the sounds of nature, wind, birds, distant dogs. Just silence, so I can get centered again, remove the fear of life, and return home a better, stronger, saner, skinnier, sweeter mom, woman.
On this day the hill much to my relief was fairly empty.
Walking, walking, clearing, clearing … Go away demons, Quiet down, demons. You’re only my fear and ego talking, demons. … Walking, walking … Hey, I’m starting to feel something, hear something. Is it God? Are you there? Are you here to tell me it’s all going to be okay, just keep putting one foot in front of the other? … Yes, I feel it. I feel the wave of serenity just beginning to wash over me, I feel the sensation of calm beginning to….
“I GOT A FUCKING TICK IN MY BALL!”
HUH? That is not God talking. No, coming from behind loud, heavy breathing guy starts sharing to his buddy in enormous detail throughout the rest of my hike, all about the bloody event that took place on his scrotum. The size of the tick, the even bigger size of the needles used to remove the tick, the blood, the pain, the screaming, the never in his life did he think he would see his ball look so black and blue and bloody….
Oh, lord, please help me. Get me the hell off this mountain. Yes, it had now become a mountain. I felt like I was never going to reach the top and find my way down. This was far more difficult than Masada. This was a form of torture I was not prepared for. To spend an entire hike listening to the gory details of this man’s ball attack was not exactly what I thought I’d be hearing.
And yet, miraculously, something happened, something beyond my control. Something I could not have planned or expected. As I was finally hitting the top of the hill it dawned on me…
My fear had been lifted.
I was no longer homeless, childless, jobless, talentless. Suddenly, I was acutely aware of how absolutely abundant my little tick-free life was. And even better — I was laughing.
I mean, tears-running-down-my-face laughing. Was it the walk? Was it God? Or was it… a stranger’s tale?
I don’t know. All I did know was that I was okay. Everything was going to be okay. I skipped all the way down the hill with my dog, never looking back, never seeing the face of the man whose tick attacked ball had done what I could not do alone.
Told my demons to go take a hike.