So rarely are we capable of leaving a point, begin walking in a direction and then minutes, or better — HOURS, later point back to the precise location of where we started and marvel at the distance. Indulging our eyes by tracing our journey once more. So rarely can time be mapped and evidenced the way we experienced when we were hiking. What a sense of accomplishment. What a sense of pride. Looking down are our legs and seeing how far our dust covered sneakers carried us each day was such a gift.
Though Kathleen and I talked about how lucky we felt to be mobile, capable, healthy, etc., these ritual check-ins, reflecting on the work my body did that day, were always private. I think we probably both had the feeling that we were sharing how those check-ins felt with each other — marveling at the journey, but we both knew that, bottom-line, this kind of pride can only really be truthfully felt in your own mind. These mini-reflections simultaneously made me feel a sense of total independence and wholeness as a creature — kind of like that old and kind of depressing saying, “you come into this world alone, and you leave it alone” — while also invoking a deep, spiritual sense of connectedness. The magnitude and grace of the mountains, didn’t suggest we take them in — they demanded it. How they managed to be both subtle and massively present was a strange but familiar feeling. Kind of the way it felt to throw a tantrum as a child, “But HOW are you so big?!” and “Why are you here? Will we fall off the side of this rock face? What’s the point in climbing? What kind of people choose to be this high and put themselves at such risk? Will you judge me if we don’t reach the summit? Will we judge us? Are you mocking humans an our perceived sense of power? Arrogance? No? You’re not?! Oh, because you’re a mountain?” Feeling foolish, we’d continue walking and my internal dialog would ramble on while the mountain winds would gently slide over our faces and whisper, Are you done yet? And I’d exhale and keep breathing.
Being in a space that required contemplation and reflection was a treat. I was so grateful to be refreshed by the dialog with these surroundings and being mindful of what it means to be human. I hope I can access those conversations and feelings down the road when I’m feeling the pull of the daily grind and remind myself of myself and the perspective I tasted in Utah. And, if not, there are always other walks to walk.