The Walking Stick

This is The Walking Stick. It is light and sturdy, and has been a steady companion since 2002. At the time, my contract from the previous year had ended and I was looking for work. This was shortly after my marriage in October 2001, which had unintentionally come on the heels of a terrible September.

My wife and I were walking on a trail near Lake Don Castro in Castro Valley when we came upon a freshly cut pile of small trees. I picked the straightest one I could find of the right length for the walks I had begun to take during the uncertain job search.

It had all its bark on it, and over the next four months I used it to explore every trail meant for man and deer in the area around our house. Long, solitary walks became routine while sending out multiple résumés daily with no result. Slowly, the bark was peeled from The Walking Stick and its wood was sealed with perspiration. The walks were mainly uneventful hours of steady exertion. Occasionally I stumbled upon a surprising animal carcass, including cattle and a fox trapped on a barbed-wire fence.

These walks helped me to be patient. They also reinforced in me respect for the beauty and cruelty of nature.

Finally, I got a job interview. And a job. It was for an unusual website called Blogger. I showed my wife the website. She paused, and then gave me the OK to give the job a go. We’re still taking The Walking Stick out on the trails.

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