I woke up this morning feeling completely out of place in my own home. Hell, out of place in my own body for that sake. I felt the need to escape my environment, to just get out of town and have some time to myself.

With a tinge of adventure attached to this desire of escape, I thought, “I am going to just walk down the railroad tracks just outside of town and see where they take me.” There were times when I was younger that my dad would drop me and my siblings off at a point in the river and we would canoe to wherever we would end up at a certain time, and then call him to pick us up using the GPS coordinate on our phones. Those were the good ol’ days in which canoeing the river was just something we did for fun, but this was different.

I have been dealing with this town and it’s negative judgement for too long. The people are against me and I feel no hope for myself and my current situation, so I just want to get out.

I talked it over with my dad and he said he was fine with it. I packed a day’s worth of snacks and water and had him drop me off at the railroad crossing.

Oh the day was perfect for such a venture. The sun was out, the trees green and having the river running along the tracks could not have set a better scene for a day’s hike to get away from it all.

I started my way down the tracks, finally able to clear my mind of everything that has been going on lately. It wasn’t far until I found myself halted and staring up at a big yellow sign beside the tracks.

It wasn’t the sign itself that stopped me, nor the fact that it was big enough to not be ignored by one merely walking on the tracks. What stopped me was what was written on the sign. In big black letters, it read: “Trespassing on railroad tracks is a federal offense and can result in a felony.”

I couldn’t move. I stood there looking at the sign like it was a window into my future. Any other year but this one, this sign would have posed no threat to me. I was the kid that didn’t listen to anyone, let alone signs. But obviously this time in my life was different, I am in a different circumstance than I have ever been in my life.

If I continue walking and stick to the plan I had made for myself this morning when I got out of bed, packed my bag and committed to a day of escape, I will increase the likelihood of someone of authority catching me breaking the law, again.  

But I didn’t exactly see the decision in that way, not that clear at least. What I found myself thinking was much more profound than the surface level consequences I would have to deal with. I surprised myself with the metaphor my mind painted for me.

My thoughts went something like this; “If I am to continue walking on these tracks, not only do I risk getting caught and in more trouble, considering I am on probation, but I risk more than that. I risk never changing. If I keep walking past this sign, which so blatantly warns me of the danger that lies ahead for me, then I will always ignore those things which serve as warning signs in life of the consequences of rebellion and stubbornness. I will always be dealing with some sort of trouble and I will not amount to anything productive.

On the other hand, if I turn around right now, and I make my way back to town, back to my house, I will not only escape a possible felony charge for walking on the tracks. I will be sending a message to myself, I will turn away from a life without meaning and towards a life of purpose and productivity in this world. I will take full responsibility for my actions and deal with the consequences thereon. I will change myself and lead a life that is full of meaning and gives me a reason to fight hard in this world.”

I was faced with these two options. A manifestation of the choices before me meant walking forward or turning around. Remaining the same, or changing. It seemed that I was standing there for hours but it must have only been a few minutes.

I had decided which way I wanted to turn. I took one last look at the sign that facilitated this fate for me and I turned around.

I am going to deal with the consequences of my actions.I am going to deal with the judgement I see on the faces of those I interact with in my community and just deal with it. I will not let spray painting that field label me anymore. I am not exactly sure what lies ahead of me after this year is over, but I am going to work hard at making my life meaningful and not complain or fight anymore.

It is time to take some responsibility.