Rock Climbing

written in spring 2014, a few months after leaving home and religion

You’ve struggled through the steep climb, forcing one foot in front of the other
up and up and up, harder and harder to lift that foot
with every inch you advanced up the mountain.

Dimly aware of the others climbing beside you
all on the same mountain
heading towards the same place
but they stood upright as you were straining forward
body bent almost level to the ground wracked with pain
but you kept on.

The thought flitted through your mind, questioning whether the others
were even there on the mountain
although you could see them climbing beside you
the motion of bodies suggested traversal of a terrain decidedly
different
from the one you were on.

But the thought hardly passed through before it was pushed out
concentrating on one foot in front of the other
lift and push forward and set down
lather rinse repeat.

You kept going
hardly seeing farther than five feet ahead
eyes on your feet, eyes on the ground stay upright, keep moving,
that’s all you can do anyway –
the peak of the mountain took you by surprise
crept up on you when you lifted your foot

suddenly there was nowhere to put it,
you felt as if you were flying –
you’d risen far higher
than you’d ever thought would be possible
and you’d done it.
You’d done it and you’d made it.

You stood at the top a moment, breath stolen
you would have stayed there if you could.

Because after that climb the view from the top looked pretty great.
You didn’t dare turn around to look down at the steep climb you’d come from
instead
you turned your head side to side, taking in the wide expanse
extending in all directions as far as you could see.

You would have stayed there if you could.

But it wasn’t very long, a few moments really
before you lost your footing and slid
down down down.

That slide was terrifying
tumbling tumbling
flashes of green and brown and blue swirling
as you tried desperately to find something
something fixed, anything fixed, to latch onto.

By the time you reached the bottom of the mountain
you were so dazed, so discombobulated
that it took you a moment to realize you’d even come to a stop.

Cautiously you sat up, looked around.

Suddenly the landscape looked different.
You slowly got to your feet and turned in a circle
taking in the mountain now behind you
that soaring height you could barely believe
you’d scaled and overcome.

And ahead, stretching ahead as far as you could see
flat flat flat
land dotted with blooms of bright color
gentle rises of grassy knolls
that looked almost completely flat
compared to the heights you’d just come from.

You drew in a breath, let it out in a sigh expressing all your relief.
Those people still on the mountain, still walking to and fro
as if they didn’t even notice
as though there were no huge edifice rearing up
out of the ground underneath them.

But ahead of you, past the mountain
you could see others walking exactly the same way
but you could see
you could see they actually were on flat land
you yearned to join them, find out what if felt like
to walk on flat land that looked flat, felt flat

so you set out, legs moving as if of their own accord
lift and forward and set down
lather rinse repeat
no effort
you thought –
I could get used to this.

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