“Mountaintops inspire leaders. Valleys mature them.”
There is a place where I feel in complete peace. The view is overwhelmingly breathtaking. Every time. It’s a place where I can be completely honest with myself about the seasons that I am in. I can go there broken, angry, when I’m on cloud nine, or just because I had the time. I am always accepted and there is no judgement. There is always a feeling of coming home, a relief to be in a place that I am completely known. The worries, the busy days, all the weights of my world just melt away in this place. I get just what I need at every visit, comfort, rest, quiet, encouragement, a reality check… just a simple stillness that meets me exactly where I am at in the moments that I find myself there.
My alarm goes off at sunrise and I debate going back to sleep but then I remember the little adventure that lies ahead of me and I get out of bed. My backpack is already packed and in the quiet morning I wash my face and brush my teeth and quickly slip on my shoes and out the door. Even though my body is screaming for more sleep there is an excitement inside of me that fuels my determination to make it to my destination.
After I park and double check my backpack for water and my small breakfast I take my first step on the dusty trail that is my very own yellow brick road. My legs begin to warm with every step, as the elevation slowly increases the sleepiness fades away, my breathe quickens and my body begins to feel alive and energized. On the way up there are a few climbs that make my muscles burn and tempt me to stop pushing upward. I don’t want to take any breaks for fear of losing any momentum that’ll shorten my travel time. I’m anxious to be home and enjoy the air and be in awe of the beauty that I know awaits me.
I always sit for a minute at the one mile mark. The engraved stone that read “1 mile” is gone but the mold of its resting place is still there serving as my own personal checkpoint. I have one final climb to push through, and then I’ll be there. With my headphones on I watch the world pass by, I slowly sip my water, while inhaling deeply and exhaling with precise control, my heart is pounding. I give a polite nod to each passerby and sometimes a slight smile, they say with their eyes, “You’re almost there.” I sit just long enough to recover my breathe, then quickly get back on my dusty feet, recommit myself to this climb with a quiet determination to finish strong no matter how I feel. I am my own coach. “You’re stronger than you think you are. Come on. Press in.”
I’m suddenly aware of every step and the size of every boulder on my way up. I’m carefully calculating my path on the way up doing my best to conserve what’s left of my energy so I don’t have to stop again. I’m so close I’m just ready to get there. My deep concentration to keep my momentum gets interrupted as people who’ve already quenched the beauty slowly trickle down the narrow path I’m struggling to stay on. They politely step aside or quickly pass probably relating to me, because it’s where they were moments earlier.
The best part is the last twenty feet before the top, because I’m completely depleted, challenging all my limits but there is always a burst of energy that meets me and I charge forward, raising my gaze to my horizon. There’s a shining silhouette of relieved hikers enjoying the reward of their hard work and I step over the top, and the sky just opens up and a refreshing relief just washes over my body and my mind is free of everything. I am home. There is a calm that settles over me and a thankful smile spreads across my face as I take in a panoramic gaze of my little piece of heaven. I am reminded of how truly blessed I am. I sit off in my own little corner so that I can bask in the pure joy of this place.