Looking Back Down

A Little Perspective

I went on a hike today and found these two chairs at the top of the mountain. Someone had thrown an empty pack of cigarettes carelessly beside them. I put my camera down in the chair beside me and I watched planes fly onto the runway. How full of hope, stress, excitement the people inside the airplanes must be. And then there I am, sitting at the top of a mountain in the dry heat of summer, looking down at familiar roads and buildings, feeling thankful to be here instead of anywhere else in the world I could be.

In New Zealand, Marie and I used to hike constantly. There was a 14-day span where I hiked every single morning, up and down mountains. At the top, I would write or take photographs or we would eat sandwiches and an apple. I would often think of how amazing it felt to look out over the top of something unfamiliar. In those moments, when I would reach the top breathlessly and look down, I would see what I was running away from for so long. I would see all the obstacles I never climbed and never wanted to climb. My loneliness, the constant wandering of my heart, my nervousness in the face of opportunity, my fear in the face of change. I was staring down at it. I was taking it in.

Climbing mountains is about the most cathartic thing you can do. I’ve heard people say they don’t like hiking because they think it’s boring. They never know what to think about or what to do other than walk. Well maybe that’s because they’re afraid too. They’re afraid of where their mind may wander when there is no where to go but up.

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