White Trail ◔ Black Trail ◕

My advisor Mr Cionte said I kept bringing him more and more about my father, his riddles and what he taught me, but I avoided the court case that took him from me. I could go on that way forever, and never come to the end.

You don't want people saying "I already have a father, thank you, and more than enough fatherly advice for a lifetime."

I looked down and nodded.

But I'm learning how to do this. From you and from him.

He looked down and nodded.

You and I love the insider talk but not everyone does. Not everyone wants to hear all our shop talk and techniques.

I nodded.

Maybe people just want to know about this handful of people, you and the people who changed your life so much, that one year.

Sure. That's what Job's friends wanted too. They wanted to hear it was all just about Job, just that one guy and something he did. But it wasn't, it was anyone. If it were just Job, would strangers still be explaining him wrong two or three thousand years later?

Right, right. But The Book of Job starts from that one guy named in the title, doesn't it? One example? If we decide he's everyone, we decide from just his one example of everyone?

I nodded.

But we made a deal, Mr Cionte and I. That's one reason I like him. He makes deals with you. He listens to your deal and doesn't just say no, he offers another deal back, like my father did.

What about a Black Trail? I asked him. A White Trail and a Black Trail? If you're in a hurry you can stick to the White Trail and skip the Black Trail?

You know when you snowboard (or ski), you see the blue and red squares for medium trails and black diamonds for advanced trails?

Or hiking. When my father and I hiked on the Appalachian trail he let me lead the way and watch for the blazes along the trail, on big trees and rocks, that keep you from getting lost. Like a little white or blue or yellow rectangle painted on a big rock, or a triangle shape nailed on a tree. I hear they even have marks for trails where owls are nesting and attack people, or clothing is optional, or both.

One time my father let me take us the wrong way, off the trail, and didn't say anything. I saw how that happens and what you do.

Another time we were hiking in snow. We saw the sun coming sideways through the trees, and flakes starting down again, and shadows rising around us like flood waters from a broken dam. We could run out of time. We watched for a cross trail and took it, the shortest trail back to the car.

It's the finite game and the infinite game, if you know those. My father said the finite game is like a 5K race. You win by finishing fastest. You just want to get to the end. It hurts until the finish line and then you celebrate. The infinite game is like the hall of mirrors at the fair. You don't want it to end. You try to keep going the longest, around and around. You don't want to see the mean guy at the exit, in his red and white striped vest and white straw hat. If he sees you your turn is over.

So I marked two trails here. The blaze along the White Trail looks like this: ◔. It's the fast way to the end. The blaze for the Black Trail looks like this: ◕. It's the long way. The scenic way you could say, or maybe the wandering and lost way, or me learning this work, I don't know.

The two trails split right here. Look out on The Black Trail. Watch for late snow and early sundown.

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