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Something to Think About
In “Sweet Feeling,” Marcel is transitioning.
- How do you think he handles the stress? What helps you manage stress?
- What does Marcel’s choice of music tell the reader about him?
- What brought Marcel’s sweet feeling? How do you find your “sweet feeling?
- Why did Marcel feel like an ember?
- What is the theme of the story for you?
“Sweet Feeling” by Yvette Prior
“Slow Ride” from Foghat, played on the radio as Marcel drove up the bumpy, narrow mountain road. Wondering if this strenuous drive was worth it, Marcel continued upwards. Sometimes a sunset from what feels like the top of the world is what the soul needs.
It is like a Corpse Pose after a challenging 55-minute yoga workout. Corpse Pose does not feel quite as good unless it follows a workout. Sweetly satisfies. Or it is like watching the final episode of Breaking Bad – it only tugs at the heart – and leaves a sweet feeling – if you watch the full season leading up and ease into Baby Blue playing.
This strenuous ascent was a way for Marcel to regroup. He recently left a job that held him back like a ball and chain attached to the ankle. Now he is still dealing with resistance as people question his choice. That drain only added to the strain of his job exit. People have good intentions, they do. Most do.
Marcel knew that this would pass. The transition would be over and the new job would eventually sync with his identity – but handling the criticism in the meantime was like trying to extract water from a dry sponge. Marcel felt parched and done. Yet inside, he felt an ember. His inner fire almost went out the last couple of years- from feeling stuck. From “being” stuck. One does not easily walk away from employment; however when the time to break free came – it allowed his wings to stop getting clipped. It allowed that ember inside to get some fuel and to glow again.
Parking his truck, Marcel put on his gear to hike up the final three miles. He had a new song in his mind. You might think it was one of those songs about being free or coming alive. Instead, it was the lyrics to “Simple Man” that ran through his mind. “Momma told me…” played smoothly in his mind as his feet carefully maneuvered the rough terrain and switchbacks. The sounds of nature then flooded his essence and he had that decompression of thoughts as he reached the summit.
Finding a makeshift campsite, he lightly shook the dusty poles, sipped water, hung the food bag, then zipped the tent and walked 50 feet to the cliff’s edge.
There he stood and looked down – and thought of the Van Halen song – you know, “… lost a lot of friends there, baby…. I’ve got no time to mess around….”
Marcel wasn’t messing around anymore by staying stuck.
Looking up – there it was.
A mesmerizing creamsicle orange, canary yellow, and streaks of gold sunset. Hints of purple near the bottom. This phantasmagoric sunset left him speechless; it paused all thought. It was, in fact, sweeter to see a sunset from what felt like the top of the world. The physical fatigue from hiking also added to the refreshment. Funny how the human body needs stress and it needs to be fatigued.
The next morning, Marcel started hiking back down before dawn. He had things to do – life was waiting to be lived – so he took sips of coffee while slowly making the descent.
As he came closer to his car, the dawn was breaking and he lightly tripped over a rock. He reached for the branches of a dried-up shrub to try to prevent the fall, but he still landed on the ground – thump! He landed with four or five branches in his hand. He began to chuckle, lightly, because the toughest terrain was behind him – covered astutely, and to now take a spill on flat ground seemed humorous. Yet there he was, catching his breath and shaking off the dirt.
Looking down, Marcel noticed something. The dried-up shrub was not dead. It was dormant. There’s a difference.
Inside the broken branches he found all this bright green and white live tissue. So much life. It looked all dried up and even looked dead. But it wasn’t. It was teeming with life even if it did not appear vibrant inside. And that reminded Marcel that he too was not completely done. His fire would roar again.
As he brushed off the final bits of debris – he smiled for the fall. He was grateful he had this simple little stumble because there was a message he needed to take back home. He hiked to see the sunset – to be in nature – to let a challenging hike fatigue his body and refresh his soul. But he also got a little more – right near the end – and that little extra left him with a sweet feeling.