On the trail I take to hike up the mountain, there is a section of 336 steps to the summit.
While they are a challenge and good exercise, I still say that whoever put those in, had a sadistic bent. They are very irregular in every way. Height, depth, spacing, each adding a degree to the struggle upward and to the reward at the top. They are also very narrow making it difficult to pass those going in the other direction. Bella and I often step to the side out of the way to allow others easy passage, no matter which way they are going.
Before you get to those steps, or on the journey down the other trail it is a different story.
While there are areas of climbing, the journey is easier and filled with amazing moments. I see life that way. Challenging and beautiful at the same time.
When my husband died and I was struggling to adjust, feeling so much like that boat torn from its anchor and set adrift, every day I spoke the same prayerful words, one day, one step, one breath at a time. I couldn’t allow myself to even attempt to see the big picture because the landscape was a fog shrouded world where one misstep was considered and could be disastrous.
Being able to see life in a different perspective helps me greatly. Since I have not worked for a year, I have been able to take the time to contemplate many things. In that contemplation, I have learned and gained much.
Walk with me..
All journeys start with that first step. Deciding.
As infants we are driven to the desire to move. We want that item but we are here and it is over there. Do we stay where we are and cry for it, or do we decide to go for it ourselves? Choices. As adults, our decisions are more varied. We see what is offered before us, the many roads we could travel. We see the many things we could go after, material, intellectual, emotional, the list goes one. We have choices and decisions to make as to the route we choose.
Then, we begin to move. The next step.
As infants, we then begin moving in some fashion, rolling, crawling, finally walking toward the desired item. As adults, we begin making the movements toward recognizing that desire. We get a job, we read a book, we initiate conversations.
We have begun. The road of our journey stretches out before us. Along the way, we will see much. We will experience much. We will create memories that will fill our mind and moments that will fill our heart. It is up to us, in how our journey progresses. It is up to us, how we face the challenges that create struggles. We may detour from our road, but we can also find our way back.
The steps that go up that mountain are divided into sections. Ever so often there is a space where you can stop to take a breath, where the direction of the steps alter to different degrees, either slightly or with more greater movement. At one point there is a small, wooden bench to rest on, all along the way, there are areas to step to one side off the steps. Some areas wide, some narrow to the point of just enough space.
When my husband was alive, life was like the journey of that hike. The time of walking along the trail before the steps. There were times when we struggled, as in the areas of a steep climb. Yet the struggles were worth it because along the way there are so many moments of beauty. Wildflowers dot the sides of the trail, encouraging you. Each new day, a new bend in the trail, a new adventure to be had in each moment.When my husband was out on the road leaving me to handle things here, were the moments of the climb, broken by those times of flat ground. Progress was made, things were taken care of and we kept moving forward.
When I got the call that my husband had been found deceased in his truck, slumped over on his bunk as if tying his shoes, for that moment, all life stopped. My journey for that brief moment was barricaded. But I could not stop. I was at a point where you can’t go back, the only option was forward. Before me, were those steps.
Such is life. At times in our journey, we will face the steps. To reach our intended destination, we must go forward. We can stop and rest for a while. We may even backtrack, eventually, we have to go forward. We have to climb the steps.
I had a list of all the things I had to accomplish when my husband died. Once that list was completed, I had to create a new list. It contains one word, live. To live, I have to face those steps.
One day at a time, I awaken and decide the things I need to do and the things I want to do. I take care of my responsibilities and I find ways to make someone’s life better and make it better for me in the process. How better for me? Because being the difference for someone, creates a difference in me. It clears my mind, it strengthens my compassion, it expands my heart. Which I see better than any material benefit.If I don’t accomplish what I thought I wanted to do or needed to get done. I’m learning its okay. I’m learning to not berate myself and to move on. Another step awaits.
As I hike the mountain, I struggle. I won’t lie. My legs scream at me, my lungs and heart are doing overtime work. But my mind keeps cheering me on, reminding me of the reward at the top. I don’t sit down along the way, I stop, I catch my breath and allow my heart rate to slow some, but I don’t sit down. It is important that I keep going.
I see people along the way who are not struggling. Some run up those 336 steps as if they are on level ground. I have seen those who go up and down those steps repeatedly, easily making the climb. I’m clinging to a small sapling, my lungs demanding more oxygen, my body jealous of those who have it easy, my mind issuing calm down orders, they may have it easy here, that doesn’t mean it is easy in every aspect. Each journey is different.
Now is better for me emotionally. Now, I am at a point in the climb, where I can see both forward and back. I can see to some level, where I am going, and I can see where I have been. I can look back, and see how far I have come. I see the moments of agony in the loneliness, in the fear, in the confusion that I came through. I see the wondering how I was going to make it.I see too, where I am. I see the new and growing confidence. I see the moments of peace. I see hope.
Walking down that mountain along the trail that is also the roadway up to a building topside, there are moments of absolute peace. When there is no one around, when the breeze is gentle, the sky quiet, all you feel is calm, healing, peace. I found some of those places along the way going up, I have had to teach myself to calm my struggles long enough to open my eyes to what is around me. To see the butterfly ballet or the wildflower bob and dance, a lizard dart among the leaves or a blue sky that goes on forever. Moments.
Climbing those steps is hard when you are not in the best shape. I have had moments when it felt as if my very breath was gone as I struggled to make my way. Stopping often and sucking in air to start again.
Just when I thought I was on a flat stretch of my journey. I lost my job. I was then staring at a steep upward climb with hidden turns and potential drop offs. I again had to make that specific list of responsibilities. I had to be careful, to plan, to adjust. To remember to simply breathe. During those periods, time may pass slowly, but it does pass. You learn to adjust, you learn to take that one breath, then the next, as you take each step.
The journey of life, is not meant always be easy. It has those twists, turns, detours, level ground and steep challenges. It has those steps that take us to where we are meant to go. During the times of struggles, we learn, we grow, we strengthen. I have become a different person than I was a year ago, as I move forward, I am even a different person than I was yesterday. I don’t look back often, only in the moments when I need to reassure myself that I am progressing.
Mostly, my eyes are on the rewards that await at the end of the climb. That, is what I am taking my steps to.