Far away from home, on vacation in the rural Northeast, I woke up early and went for a run in the quiet beginning of a new day. It was unfamiliar terrain and I set out with a lot of hope and a little luck that I wouldn’t get lost. I turned left, went up the hill, crossed the street at the stop sign, turned right…
Big homes on large pieces of land, trees in all shades of green covered the mountains that sat as my backdrop; all around me were familiar signs of a beloved childhood that I never realized meant so much to me.
Big, tall maple trees provided shade on a sunny morning. Hydrangeas bloomed in every shade of pink and purple and caught my eye and made me smile. Rhododendrons, Japanese Maples, proof that there is a grass softer and prettier than that ridiculous St. Augustine in my yard at home…
Around the bend, across a ‘main’ road to another small neighborhood as pretty as the one I had just exited. Same familiar music from the same old playlist (enjoyably) assaulting my ears; but that wasn’t what motivated me this morning. This morning it was the small memories of decades ago that made me want to keep moving.
When I hit what I thought was a halfway mark in my time, I turned around, determined I could easily go back the way I had come. Down the street, around the bend, WHOA! Where did this big, long, stretching hill come from? I must have run down it earlier, but it didn’t seem so daunting earlier, and it struck me…
This wasn’t the first time I stood at the bottom of something comparatively insurmountable. With my legs complaining from the already numerous ups and downs I had completed, I decided I would walk up it. I got to the top, feeling slightly disappointed I didn’t try to run it, but soaring for having made it with a strong, steady (albeit walking) gait. I turned and walked a few short steps, taking some deep breaths, to find myself at an intersection of streets with the intent of turning right to head back ‘home’. I looked left to assure no cars were approaching and I realized I was at the top of another steep and winding hill, and that earlier metaphor took on a secondary meaning.
Those steep hills are everywhere. I bet someone else ran up (or walked up) that hill to my left, maybe earlier, or maybe later; but I’m certain that hill was conquered that day.
We all have them; those seemingly insurmountable ‘hills’ or mountains we just don’t think we can get up, or over, or through, or around…We think we won’t work it out, or solve the issue, or survive it when it’s all over…
And somehow, we find the strength and the courage and the perseverance to conquer it…
even if we walk instead of run.
I smiled as those thoughts slammed into each other in my mind. I waited for a car to pass and turned to run. A familiar song in my ears (one that doesn’t belong on that playlist), and I smiled again, cried for a moment, and then in front of me was another hill. This one went down.
It would have been easy to run, but I walked this one too, with the same steady and controlled gait I had used a few steps ago.
The last few yards before I got back to my original destination found me at the bottom of one more hill. (OK, it was small, tiny even! but for this transplanted Southern girl it was steep!)
I’ll have you know I ran up this one.
It wasn’t strong, or steady, and had no control…but I did it anyway.
I won’t hope your terrain in life is always flat, and without cause for finding your strong and steady gait.
It’s the hills and the valleys, the mountains and the edges of the cliffs that give us cause to worry and be concerned, make us angry, or sad or scared…
But getting to the top, whether we walk or run (or hell, sometimes crawl), gives us a sense of accomplishment and a sturdy heart. Sometimes that accomplishment is more rewarding than other times; sometimes you are hard pressed against the wind; but every time you stand at the top, you can look back down and say,”I did it.”
I know it’s a bit metaphorical, and somewhat philosophical, and maybe a bit cheesy… but it struck me last week, and hung on for a while, and I thought I’d share.
Be kind to others, they may be climbing their own mountains, even when it looks like they are on flat ground.
All my love, d