In my hometown of Edmonds, Washington, there is Richmond Beach, about a 20 minute-walk from my parent’s home. The walk features many cute houses, a wilderness reserve, and the sight of the incoming Pacific Ocean. For some reason, I have never grown tired of this walk, now matter how many times I have gone on it. Richmond Beach harbors the Puget Sound, and a long stretch of beach alongside train tracks. And across the train tracks, about a 5-minute walk from the start of the beach, there is a hidden path in the clay hills that few know about. You have to climb upon the tracks, jumps over a large ditch, cross an electric wire, and then you will see this hidden crevice of a path.
It is not a secret place just for me, but apparently for other people as well. There are signs of people’s previous presence there through bottles and pieces of plastic left behind. Also, the trail is not too neglected. As soon as you start walking on the path, you will hear the tremor of a waterfall. The waterfall is the last stop of the path, and it quitely rumbles. However, I remember when I was younger, this waterfall was constantly raging. I do not know what has changed, especially in such a suburban environment.
Anyways, it seems that long ago, the waterfall carved into the clay rock and formed this opening in the hill. Along the trail, there is sagebrush, flowers, grasses, and other vegetation. Occasionally, you can hear birds singing around it. It is a serene place for meditation, introspection, and mystic thinking in general.
The trail is not solely straight: on the right, there is another trail that leads to a high plateau of rock, where you can comfortably sit and look at the view of the Puget Sound while you meditate, contemplate, or enjoy a picnic. Despite going there many times, I have never seen another soul there. I do not know if it is simply the lack of people that come there or if it is a special place where the nature allows only one human at a time, but I believe mostly in the former.
I would often come there as a child, and even now as an adult. In my childhood, I was teased and ridiculed for my size and my status in school. I was never one of the cool kids, so to speak, and after school, sometimes all I wanted to do was come to this secret trail and sit on that ledge on the right. I would hear the waterfall, feel the ocean breeze, listen to the birds singing, witness the Puget Sound in its glory, and watch the trains come and go. All these sensory experiences calmed my mind and spirit. I do not know if I am an introvert, but this is one of those places where I come and recharge my batteries. And most importantly, I could forget and move on from the torture and embarrassment I went through at school.
In my later years, this spot became hallowed ground for meditation. When I was feeling in a mystic mood, I would walk from my parent’s home when I visited them, and by the time I reached the secret trail, I would already be calm. You can call it a walking meditation. When I reached the ledge on the trail, I would close my eyes, and let the world around me fade. I would search within myself for that peace that cancelled out my identity and troubles. As an adult, I came to realize that there is a special place within us all that is completely quiet and aware. This trail is one of the areas that I have designated to explore this sanctuary within.
Occasionally, I bring friends to this special spot to show them the wonder of it. However, even after I have shown a few of my friends this place, they have not returned on their own volition. It seems this sanctuary calls to me—whether in a mystical or intuitive sense. But maybe it is better that way: if too many people came to know about this secret trail, it would not be so peaceful and alluring.