warning: f bombs ahead
“Doubt yourself and you doubt everything you see. Judge yourself and you see judges everywhere. But if you can listen to the sound of your own voice, you can rise above doubt and judgment. And you can see forever.” ~ Nancy Lopez
I just climbed my first mountain.
I scaled the rocks and owned intimidating inclines.
I felt all walks of strength swell and expand and explode, supporting me all the way up to that one final push that brought the rolling hills and blanketed evergreens into view. I inhaled victory and exhaled all that is anything less.
I absorbed that climb and took that view into my veins. I let the air become the life force of my body. I let it stimulate my blood and solidify my bones, releasing all remaining fears and limitations.
Because once I reached the top—once that perspective overcame me—everything and anything became possible.
We need those moments. We deserve them. We deserve every fucking sparkling breathtaking miraculous second of them. We deserve to open our arms and welcome that brilliant burning sunshine and cool cleansing air.
For the first time, I saw and felt everything so hard that I saw and felt nothing. I was so small in comparison to what I couldn’t even believe I was seeing, and that inspired a seriously altering perspective. I felt like I left a part of myself at the base of the mountain, scattered over the rocks and mud and snow and slush that we traversed in our ascent. I left parts of myself behind for the mountain to absorb, transform and release, and when I scaled that summit, I didn’t know what to do because I almost didn’t know who I was.
I was different—something had changed.
Something had shifted; a shift so subtle yet so huge had taken place without me even noticing until I couldn’t cry.
The entire way up, I kept thinking I was going to cry when we reached the top. I even warned my friend who was climbing with me—I told him that he might think I was crazy, but I was probably going to lose it once we got there.
He said he didn’t think I was crazy at all.
That was my green light.
Looking out over more nature than I’ve ever taken in at once, I really, really wanted to cry. I wanted to feel the sobs roll from the very bottom of my belly to the very top of my chest and explode from my lungs, but they didn’t come.
Nothing came—nothing but extreme awe.
Silence, sight and awe. I didn’t even feel the cold, didn’t even notice my hair whipping around, didn’t feel the rawness of my hands. I also didn’t feel the congestion in my chest and head that had been kicking my ass over the last week. At the top, it was all gone—all lifted. All released and replaced with…nothing.
All of that nothing felt like nothing I had ever felt.
So I stood, silent. Then I hugged my friend for what felt like a small eternity…and as tightly as I could. That hug was the first thing I felt up there—it warmed me when I didn’t realize I was cold. It grounded me when I hadn’t realized I started to drift. It reminded me of what I just did, where I was and who I was there with.
And then, for two seconds, I started to tear up. I felt a small sob begin to stir…and subside as quickly as it came.
I didn’t have to cry. I’ve cried in the woods so many times—intense sobs, and at much less epic sights. Then I get to the top of my first mountain, and no tears; they were neutralized by something that was so much bigger than me, something I could have never prepared myself to see or feel.
It wasn’t peace. It wasn’t stillness. It wasn’t anything I thought it would be, because it was so much more. It was so much more personal.
It was straight-up worth. Fucking victory. Clarity. Progress. Evolution.
It was the overwhelming feeling that everything was changing—most importantly, me.
I suddenly realized I could do, be and have everything I’ve ever wanted.
Straight-up freedom. Endless possibilities. An entirely new way of life, sprawling further and wider than I ever believed was possible…
Without even realizing it, I had shed my shackles on my way up the mountain.
I felt white and black reverse
And the lifting of a curse from my heart
And then like one receiving sight
I beheld a brilliant light in the dark. ~ Thrice, Words in the Water
And what the mountain gave me to fill the space left by the shackles was vastness; a sense of weightlessness and infinite breadth ready to carry me to the next mountain top, and the next, and the next. What that peak delivered to me was an overwhelming promise of hope. It showed me that if the picture I saw before me could exist, then anything —anyfuckingthing—could, too.
And if anything could exist, then there’s absolutely no reason why I couldn’t have it…
All of it.
Once the soul awakens, the search begins and you can never go back. From then on, you are inflamed with a special longing which will never again let you linger in the lowlands of complacency and partial fulfillment. The eternal makes you urgent. You are loath to let compromise or the threat of danger hold you back from striving towards the summit of fulfillment. ~ John O’Donohue
And have all of it I will.
We all can. Even if we have to conquer a mountain or sail across an ocean…or not. It’s all a matter of claiming it and taking it; claiming our worth, our strength, our unique luminescence that we’re meant to shine from the highest summit or illuminate and radiate from the darkest depths.
That pearl of light is already burning brightly inside us all. I found mine atop my beloved mountains, and even though I traveled outward to climb them, the real ascent happened inside, in the mountain range resting in my chest, cradling my heart.
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Editor: Renée Picard