Author Topic: Climbing  (Read 1604 times)

Jen

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 1076
  • Jim: 7 April 1974-10 April 2014
Climbing
« on: May 28, 2015, 04:04:44 PM »
I climbed a mountain today. I feel like I climb one every day, but this time I literally did climb a mountain: http://www.arkansasstateparks.com/things-to-do/trails/west-summit-trail-39/ . I'm kind of amazed that I didn't break an ankle or my neck. It's not a trail so much as a muddy track between great piles of boulders that no one ever bothered to blaze a proper trail through-- they just left the occasional streak of yellow paint to tell you you're still going the right way, but even that's fairly subjective.

It occurred to me, pretty quickly, that climbing this big hill is a lot like the journey we're all on, treacherous and hard as hell. The path is rocky and steep, and you can't look very far ahead-- it's too discouraging, and you have to concentrate on where you're putting your foot with each and every step. You hold on where you can, grabbing a rock or a tree or even a stranger's hand when you feel the ground start to shift beneath you, but ultimately you have to continue the climb alone. You're too focused on your own snail-like progress to offer much to others on the trail-- just a nod, I see you, good on you, keep going. You wish them well, you might even strike up a conversation, make a brief connection, but then you hit a particularly rough stretch-- a stairway of precariously perched boulders, almost vertical, -- and you draw away again, clambering upward, stopping every few feet to catch your breath and slow your hammering heart. You ask yourself, "What in hell was I thinking? I can't do this, I can't climb another step." But then you do-- you pick yourself up, drag yourself forward, even while you're wondering why you're doing it. You tell yourself you can stop at any time, you can turn around and head back down-- and really, what's the point of going further? But then you look out at the valley below, you see how far you've come and you think about how you'll feel if you give up now. Worse than if you'd never tried, maybe, so you press on, ignoring the stitch in your side and the fitter folk who jog effortlessly past you. You pause when you need to, you breathe deeply and drink water, and once or twice you feel dimly grateful that no one can tell if the moisture running down your face is sweat or tears.

Finally, finally, you reach the top. You've struggled to get to this point-- and here you are! But there's no one waiting to congratulate you, to greet you with a hug and a proud smile, no one to say "I knew you could do it!" There's only you, and the sky, and a hawk sailing on the thermals high above. The view is breathtaking, it should be inspiring, but instead it's lonely and desolate. You feel so small, just a speck of unregarded humanity, and any sense of accomplishment is lost in the realization that you now have to go back, all the way you came, only now the slope goes the other way and the boulders seem twice as big. You have no choice: you can accept reality, or sit up here and starve. Clearly, the latter isn't tenable, so you sigh and start to pick your way cautiously down from the summit.

Gravity seems to have increased. More than once you miss your footing, you slip and almost fall. But you manage to right yourself, you keep going, and gradually you feel your confidence inching up. You can do this. You are doing it. It's still hard-- your muscles ache with unaccustomed exertion and tension, and in unexpected places; you stop to rest several times, and you gulp down the last of your water. But you find that you can raise your head more often, you see the other people on the path with you, and you're even able to offer some encouragement-- "I did it, so can you."

Then, all at once, the trail levels out, you're on asphalt and you can see your car. You made it, there and back again-- but nothing has changed, has it? You still have to carry yourself wherever you're going next-- to the store, back home. Roads go ever ever on, Tolkien says, and your journey continues, even as the mountain recedes in the rearview mirror. But surely you're allowed a few moments of pride? You climbed a mountain, after all, and that's progress-- even if nobody in the whole world sees or cares, even if there are a thousand more exhausting ascents in front of you. You did it, step by step, and you'll keep going, because that's what you have to do. That's what life does, even when you don't want it to. One day it will be your turn to stop-- but for now, all you can do is climb.
« Last Edit: May 28, 2015, 08:49:06 PM by Just Jen »
I have love in me the likes of which you can scarcely imagine and rage the likes of which you would not believe. If I cannot satisfy the one, I will indulge the other. ~Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

"Dying is easy. Living is hard. ~George Washington, Hamilton

donswife

  • Member
  • Posts: 552
Re: Climbing
« Reply #1 on: May 28, 2015, 08:42:21 PM »
that was amazing writing ...felt every bit of your climb both emotionally and physically
the same climb we all take every day, then the alarm goes off and we start our day
thank you for that
My everything

lcoxwell

  • Member
  • Posts: 671
Re: Climbing
« Reply #2 on: June 04, 2015, 04:31:02 PM »
You climbed a mountain, after all, and that's progress-- even if nobody in the whole world sees or cares, even if there are a thousand more exhausting ascents in front of you. You did it, step by step, and you'll keep going, because that's what you have to do. That's what life does, even when you don't want it to. One day it will be your turn to stop-- but for now, all you can do is climb.

This was beautifully written, and I cannot tell you how very much I needed to read this today. It brought tears to my eyes, but in a good way. Thank you, so much for sharing this and for the encouragement that it has brought to me, on a very difficult week, where I am having trouble putting one step in front of the other. (((Hugs)))
"The highest tribute to the dead is not grief but gratitude." - Thornton Wilder

Thank you, my dearest Kenneth, for loving me and for giving me the best 13 years of my life.

Jen

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 1076
  • Jim: 7 April 1974-10 April 2014
Re: Climbing
« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2015, 02:06:05 PM »
So many hugs back...
I have love in me the likes of which you can scarcely imagine and rage the likes of which you would not believe. If I cannot satisfy the one, I will indulge the other. ~Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

"Dying is easy. Living is hard. ~George Washington, Hamilton