After weeks of feeling exhausted, depressed and out of control, I escaped to New Hampshire’s White Mountains with Erin for some rest, relaxation, romance, and hiking. We found all those things, but I also found myself humbled and shamed when hiking up the mountains.
After a back injury, job stresses and the breakdown of my food plan, I knew I was out of shape when we started up Mt. Willard in Crawford Notch. But we’ve hiked plenty of times before, and I’d done fine.
It didn’t take long before my heart started pounding through my rib cage and I lost my breath. Other hikers — many with children and dogs in tow — moved past us with what seemed like ease. Much older people blew past us like they were taking an easy stroll on the beach.
Erin noted more than once that the other hikers seemed to be struggling, too, that it wasn’t just me, but that’s not how I felt.
From my perspective, the mountain was taunting me, poking and shaming me into realizing just how badly I’ve deteriorated physically. I kept looking for the top of the mountain, but all I could see was a trail that kept shooting straight up.
The mountain was showing me no mercy. It kicked me repeatedly when I was down. Then it rewarded me with a spectacular view that seemed to make the suffering worthwhile.
It took us an hour to climb back down. I spent the rest of the afternoon in a haze.
We did an easier, shorter hike the next day, but it still wiped me out. Coming back down the second trail, I realized that the mountains were a metaphor for what I’ve been feeling.
As rotten as those feelings are, the mountains also taught me that I can overcome the demons, as I have so many times before.
I frequently doubted that I could make it to the top during the hikes. But I kept going, no matter how much pain I was in. And at the top, the world opened back up with endless possibilities.
I always keep going, and things always get better.
So it will be this time.