Recently, I was in the great state of Utah visiting two of my four grown kiddos. The trip was my Mother’s Day gift, and bonus: my son took me out for a yummy brunch to celebrate. Utah being Utah, we were about 5 minutes from breakfast to majestic mountains, and so afterwards we stopped at a landmark site which had a steep hiking trail. I wasn’t exactly hiking-chic in my leggings and cotton dress, but luckily I had donned my converse low-tops, so I decided I was up for a little challenge.
As we tromped up the mountainside, I heard a loud wheezing sound. Was it a wild animal? As my eyes darted around to see where it was coming from, I realized it seemed to be coming from me! Groan. I’ve lately suffered severe sciatica and knee issues, which has rendered me unable to walk normally, or do much of anything else pertaining to exercise. Consequently, I am a current card-carrying member of the chub club. Well that and the fact I go out for brunch with my son-but I digress…
It was discouraging that traipsing a rocky incline taxed my body so much that I felt every day of my age-(53…er…35 with my dyslexia). Just call me Weezy from the Jeffersons, (if you are of an age), or Weezer (if you’re a youngster). As I huffed and puffed like the big bad Wolf, I enjoyed the woods and nature in all her glory. My thoughts were turned to the sheer simplicity and joy of what I was experiencing right in that moment, and on the heels of that-the reminder that I should be doing this everyday.
Faraway, in another great state-Texas-in the area where I live, there aren’t mountains to climb and streams to ford. (Or else I would make like Julie Andrews and climb every mountain, ford every stream…sing along, you get my drift).
And speaking of drifting…As I continued along distracted in my thoughts, a careless misstep dislodged some rocks, creating a snowball effect, and a small but mighty avalanche cascaded down the mountain face-quickly gathering momentum as it tumbled down to the roadway below. I did a little slippy-slippy slidey on the pebble strewn path, and grabbed my son’s shoulder for support-nearly taking him out with me. As visions of me humiliated and hurtling down the hillside like a runaway bowling ball knocking down pins filled my head, I quickly course-corrected and firmly planted my feet on the straight and narrow.
Although letting my mind wander was what had caused the rocky-road incident, (as it came to be known—well only in my head-but it’s catchy, don’t ya think?) A thought occurred to me, that life is like that rocky path. The path may look doable, (even if all uphill), and the rocks may look small…pebbles, even…but they can soon become stumbling blocks if we are distracted or not properly equipped. What may seem a tiny hurdle can create a ripple effect and morph into a Goliath with fallout requiring extensive repair. (Apparently I’m a deep-thinker when I’m light-headed at the top of a mountain.)
I remember once upon a time when we were on a road trip and my grandma was with us. We were in the middle of nowhere in Idaho, which not surprisingly happens quite a lot. Well grannies being what grannies are, we really needed to find a rest stop. And there was nothing after miles and miles of driving.
Just when it seemed we were going to have to make an undignified roadside stop and take turns playing lookout, we spotted a potty of sorts. More like an outhouse, but they were trying to pass it off as rustic national park chic. I’m not sure what the park rangers were smokin’ the day they set that up, because the doorway faced a rushing creek. Or a babbling brook…I’m not sure. And the water was high that year-(kind of like the park rangers that set up that potty). To enter, you had to balance on wet slippery rocks, snake your hand around the door, which then swung out-nearly knocking you into the creek-brook. My grandma decided the only way this was going to work was if we formed a human chain. So there we were. Hand in hand like paper cutout dolls, keeping each other safe from the peril of the rushing water. (Not to mention the peril of using a woodsy latrine).
And so it came to pass that we family-bonded over our room with a view. Even though we did do the slippy-slippy slidey on the creek rocks, as we individually supported one another, we were strengthened as a whole. We did something collectively we could never have done individually. (Well we could’ve gone to the bathroom individually, but you see where I’m going with this.) It’s not a glamorous illustration, but definitely a situation that required teamwork. And humor. But don’t the best memories always seem to have elements of teamwork and humor? In my family they do!
I guess it’s true what they say…it does take a village. Life is always going to be full of hardship and hindrances. But we don’t go it alone. We are here to support and lift and be supported and lifted.
“Life Elevated” is the very appropriate slogan for the state of Utah. My little mountain rockslide adventure was a close call. But after I used my son as a human shield and my life hysterically flashed before my eyes, I learned a little life-lesson.
Life is the ultimate cliffhanger. Unpredictable. Full of twists, turns and obstacles. And you know what? Turns out those are the very things that elevate us!
“It’s not the mountain that we conquer-but ourselves…”
~Sir Edmund Hillary