On Saturday we climbed. It’s lucky I had new boots because I didn’t know what I should have known — from the foreboding name of this peak, Breakneck Ridge — I didn’t know I’d be scrambling up steep shelves of rocks, placing one hand on the jutting rough, nudging one foot in a sticky crease while the other dangled. I didn’t know a fear of heights would lead to getting caught like some splayed out toad on a narrow crest, so the stranger behind me in hot pink with the white gold hair would call out need a boost?, and my stubborn pride would send me flying even over phobias, I don’t need anyone’s help…not me. 

Getting to the top meant getting nearer to clouds, seeing the water in its green and brown and blue, like smooth camo pants between mountain shadows.

These days I find myself in a forever pattern of wanting too much, too many things, my ponytail swinging over a sweaty neck, ever-gracefully tripping on micro-slopes I hadn’t seen beneath the moss because I was moving too fast, my husband having to remind me to calm down but you understand, don’t you, that I have to keep up a certain momentum.

And I did want to keep going, even when he wanted to look at the map, when the fallen tree looked nice enough to sit on (but was it really?), when I wondered how many miles we had gone, how many feet we had climbed and someone had to laugh and ask the question, because I certainly wasn’t going to, do you want to enjoy the hike or just finish?

I don’t know the answer to that question, of course, I don’t know, I don’t know, my heart beat out at the top of things, because you can hear it when you are that high and there’s nothing else, you can hear it banging.


5 thoughts on “Climbing

  1. Oh, how this resonated with me (and that photo — so beautiful!). “Do you want to enjoy the hike or just finish?” is really the quintessential question, isn't it? And I don't always know the answer, either. I want to enjoy the hike, certainly, but I'm always pushing to the next thing… the next moment, the next experience, the next goal. “Be Here Now” is written in my bedroom, soon to be moved to the new house, and I try to hold that thought in my heart every day.


  2. Sometimes these physical experiences seem like they happen to us to highlight a deeper spiritual lesson that Someone's trying to teach us. I often feel helpless, like we're born into wanting to “just finish” rather than enjoy the hike. I wish appreciating the here & now came naturally, but alas, I usually have to work at it.

    And oh my gosh, no wonder you write about hearing your banging heartbeat. Your picture makes it look like you could stand on your tiptoes and reach up and touch the clouds! It almost looks like a hologram!


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