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By Christine Baker
Off the Trail, USA

Christine Baker and Jessie

If I had my way, I would be a hummingbird or maybe the deep end of the ocean. The sky would be my playground and the chill from the dark night would melt under the orange glow of the morning sun. I would feel the wind against my face and hear the collective voices of the person I used to be or want to be, and sing a song, clear and calm, in a moment of fleeting freeness.

But even the oceans are confined by the shores. Even hummingbirds must land to rest their wings. Even I do not have all the answers or know what the future will bring. Why do we throw ourselves into time and then wonder where the time has gone? We've taken it. We've ravaged it. And then time reminds us that it will not stop even once for us just to be polite.

The tides take away and the tides give back. The clock keeps ticking and moments that seem so insignificant now are the ones we will remember when the daylight slants low on the windowsill. Autumn arrives in the rustle of the leaves. Winter howls and screams and beats itself against the windows to be heard, to be recognized, to be remembered. But spring always follows winter simply to remind us that after the darkest, coldest days, there is warmth, there is always hope. When the first flowers of summer bloom, they give themselves over to the birds and the bees and the wind and the earth saying, "take my heart and do with it what you will."

We are not the deep end of the ocean.

We can never be the hummingbird.

We are the beach and the flowers are our hearts. With each wave, the ocean turns us over and over, pulling more and more of us away until we are only single grains of sand hoping to be reunited with our hearts when the spring returns.

I close my eyes for a while and have to fight the feeling of exhaustion, of being worn out, of feeling broken down. But underneath the ache, I feel something new growing strong and true inside of me. It is not hope or a dream or a wish. It is the person I was always meant to be. This is what it means to truly grow up. I see that now. This is what it feels like to let life flow through me – the good and the bad, the challenges and the accomplishments. Life is not about holding onto anything. Life is about allowing ourselves to feel all of it – the beautiful and the painful, the difficult and the amazing, the simple and the mundane. That is what it means to be human. Because when it is all said and done, life is not something we control. It is something we experience.

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Christine Baker is the founder of Walk4Good and president of CB Creative, Inc., an integrated communications consulting firm in Nyack, NY. She is the author of Why She Plays: The World of Women's Basketball (University of Nebraska Press 2008), and was inducted into the Middletown, Connecticut Sports Hall of Fame in January 2011.

All opinions expressed by Christine Baker are solely her own and do not reflect the opinions of Stay Thirsty Media, Inc.

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