I'm taking a writing class, and a few weeks ago our first assignment was to write about object, place, and character.  The instructor said I did well with the object and place (I wrote about a stone circle in Scotland), but that I needed to flush out the character a little bit more (myself).  He suggested I write a timeline of my life, just general events and dates, to get me going.  When I sat down to do this, all I kept writing about was my dad and my relationship to him.

My dad passed away the day after Christmas 2006.  He worked for over 40 years at a job he hated to support his family, and he would have done anything for us.  The problem was that he didn't trust people.  He did the best he could, but I grew up feeling like I had to question everything and everyone, especially myself.  I worked on this quite a bit at Warrior Monk.  Learning to trust myself, releasing fear and doubt.  Finally able to accept who I am, even if it is different from what others expect of me.

I don't think my dad would have understood the spiritual quest I'm on now when he was alive.  Stick to the sure thing, the safe thing, he would have said.  Avoid the unknown. He was a no-nonsense kind of guy, and he couldn't even understand why I wanted to be a vegetarian.  Somehow I feel a deeper connection to him now that he has passed, almost like he is guiding me.  Not only do I think he understands, but I think he wants me to succeed on this new path, whatever it turns out to be.  He's no longer pointing out everything that could go wrong with my new endeavors, but showing me the deer trail through the woods that will send me on my way.

I arrived early at Warrior Monk to do some writing.  I was standing close to the house, looking for the perfect spot to write.  A deer came up out of the woods, looked right at me, and continued to walk towards me.  My dad was an avid deer hunter, and he taught me quite a bit about them.  In all of my years of watching deer, I have never seen this happen.  Frustratingly, a car came around the corner at that point and scared her away.

Every time we went outside over the next few days, I saw a deer, sometimes several.  Even the last day.  I had to leave early to get home for Halloween, and as usual I was running late.  I wanted to write one more poem beneath my "inspiration tree" before I left, so without much grace I bounded through the woods as fast as I could.  Looking down so I didn't fall, I didn't realize how close the deer were.  When I finally looked up I saw the 4 white tails flying, as the deer tried to escape this crazy person wrecking their peace and crashing through the woods.

The deer are a sign to me that my dad continues to accompany me on this journey of self discovery.  I am slowly shedding this skin that no longer fits, and blossoming into the me that I was always meant to be.  Thanks for the encouragement and guidance Dad.  Just watch me grow.

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