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April 20, 2013

On the Go: Life is like the Cliff Walk

The Daily Star

---- — Over spring break, my family and I spent time in Newport, R.I. While we were there, we walked a path known as the Cliff Walk. This walk is nestled between some Newport mansions and some cliffs overlooking the ocean. While we were walking, my sister and I noticed how this path was a perfect metaphor for life and the journey it is.

That morning when we were all getting ready to go, I was still waffling on if I should go. I figured it would be fun, but I didn’t know if it would be fun enough to outweigh chilly, whipping winds. I was told it was a warmer day and that I should go. 

We got there, and it was certainly not warm. It was cold and gusty. We had to park a little way away and walk uphill to the Cliff Walk’s entrance. 

Where the Cliff Walk starts, there is a nice plaque and a fancy stone path. On the ocean side, there is a span of grass before a rocky cliff. As you get farther along the path, the cut stone turns into concrete, the frequency of plaques lessen, and the natural boundaries occasionally change to concrete walls and fences. 

Scattered along the length of the path there are daffodil plants just about to bloom. They were stretching up at the sun like a toddler at a counter that’s just a little too high. I wanted to bend down and cheer them on, remind them one more time that they could do it.

There are signs periodically along the cliffside. They read, “Caution! Stay on paved path. Steep cliffs. High risk of injury.” The sign tempted me to climb down more than the enchanting rocks and the little tidal pools and the blue water did. The thrill of jumping, climbing and exploring greatly outweighed any high risks. The rocky cliff turned into rock structures in the tidal pools. Standing on top of the rocky structure looking at my reflection in the water, I felt victorious, even if I was only about 10 feet up.

The wind got better the farther we walked. It even got mild enough to shed a layer by the end. 

As we were walking, most people coming the other way would look at the ground and not say anything. The few who said hello and looked me in the eyes are the few people I bothered to notice and remember. 

Another small group I noticed were the people who paused, sitting on a bench, taking a picture, or stopping to notice the crocuses.

I glanced out on the horizon at one point. A speck of a cruise ship was visible. I tried to show my niece, but she couldn’t discern it from the water or clouds. She tried to see where I was pointing and got very frustrated when she couldn’t see it. It was hard for her to know something was out there just beyond her reach. 

This walk was just one afternoon’s entertainment, but it can go a lot deeper than that. In life, you’ll reap the benefits of straying from the path.

Patience and perseverance are powerful things. Exploring and discovering will bring you joy and satisfaction. Effort conquers difficulty. Pausing will result in a richer experience. 

If you want to enjoy your walk, climb the rocks.

Kate Ahearn is a sophomore at Unatego Junior-Senior High School. ‘Teen Talk’ columns can be found at