I have a tendency to obsess over meaning. When I speak with other people, I tend to over analyze what I say to them, what they say to me, what I perceive as their reactions to what I’ve said or done… If I let myself go on too long, then I usually end up upset or irritated at myself. Because, of course, I’m always at fault in my own head.
But I’ve gotten better about letting myself go down those kinds of dark, spiraling paths. So, when a man had some odd words to say to Ambrose and I before our last backpacking trips, I didn’t take it personally.
But I did analyze it a bit.
We had just explained that we were going to backpack to Johnson Lake up the Little Queens River. Now, I had backpacked there myself not four weeks previously. I knew that I could do it, and, based on other trips we had taken that summer, I knew Ambrose could do it as well. Unless something catastrophic had happened to make the trail impassable, we were good.
But this man, this man leading a horse, looked at us, dismissed us with his eyes (there’s that analysis again), and said, “Good luck with that.”
In and of itself, not such a bad phrase. Add a little friendliness to the tone, maybe a smile, and you’ve got a perfectly nice thing to say to a person you’ve only just seen for the first time.
Such friendliness, however, was lacking in this man’s tone. Instead, a sarcasm dominated, a clear doubt in our ability to accomplish our stated goal. It was almost accompanied by a snort of disbelief.
Why, I thought later, didn’t I have the perfect reply ready? I could have smiled sweetly and asked if the trail had been washed out since we had been there not four weeks prior? Had there perhaps been a fire I hadn’t heard about, which this man would be happy to inform me of? A bear sighting, mayhap?
Still. It would have been more to his advantage than mine, had he replied in a friendly manner. Because his next words were to inform us that he was going up the “big” Queens River (not its name).
And I happened to know that after the crossing of the Queens River, about three miles down the trail he intended to take, the majority of the trail was washed out and near impossible to find or follow.
However, I was so shocked by his tone that I had nothing to say.
Though as we walked up the Little Queens, I did find myself thinking about the wash out.
Yeah. Good luck with that.