When Life Gives You Lemons, Sell them and Buy Shoes

Maribeth Monato


 A betrayal sends a young woman into depression. On the edge of despair, she finds the path that leads her out.


“Hello rock, meet bottom.”                                                                                                    

This was the conversation that ran in my head while I curled up in my bed next to the white-painted wall. 

A sense of loneliness and grief lingered in the four corners of my tiny room in my shared house in North Vancouver. Tears flowed like a river, wetting the pillow underneath me. I couldn’t help it. My long-time partner had just cheated on me for the second time with the same person. Depression hit me all over again. This time, it escalated and was worse than ever. I was suicidal. The world seemed to be caving in. I wished I did not exist. I was lost. Everything around me was quiet, but my mind was loud.

Through eyes swollen from never-ending tears, I saw something next to the door in my cramped room. It was my old pair of hiking shoes, rugged, kind of dusty and muddy. I hadn’t used them in a long time.

I wiped my watery eyes, got up and slid my feet into the shoes. I grabbed the rope from the closet. I still had it since the last time I thought of killing myself. Then I left my room and stormed down the hall to the front door. Once outside, I ran as fast as I could, unmindful of the world around me. I stopped a little while to catch my breath, then ran again.      

I don’t know how far and long I ran, but I found myself in the middle of a hiking trail. I looked around to find the best spot to hang myself. Above me were towering trees, the rays of sunlight and clear blue sky showing through their shadows. The fragrance of pine filled the open air. Still looking up, my head held high, I thought, “This is such a beautiful place.”                         

I closed my eyes for a good minute. Slowly, I let go of the rope in my hand. It fell to the ground. I also fell—onto my knees, crunching onto the fallen branches and screaming my heart out. I don’t know if there were people around. At least I didn’t hear anybody. I didn’t care anyway.  

I stopped crying for a bit, listened to the sounds of silence, then cried again and again and again until I was exhausted. Emptied. But then a new feeling came. I felt like I was home. I had found a sort of refuge. I embraced the waterfall inside me. I hugged myself and said, “It’s going to be okay. You’re gonna be fine. This too shall pass.” Slowly, I picked myself up, retied the loose laces of my shoes and took the first step. And then the next. I was walking again, not thinking where my feet would take me. The forest air flowed between my fingers. I knew I had to start again. 

This time I found serenity and comfort in the arms of Canadian Mother Nature. I don’t know how she does it, but she calls me to come home every time I have an episode of depression. To me, she is the best therapist. She seems to sympathize with me in her natural ways. I still fight my inner battles and wail in silence sometimes, but when I do, I put on my hiking shoes to sell her my life’s lemons.

Maribeth Monato is a former elementary school teacher from the Philippines. She has lived in Canada for 12 years. She is also an avid hiker and adventurer who believes in staying strong, no matter what.

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