Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Metaphor for Life

My three grown sons and a friend went on a four day hiking trip in the mountains above Grand Lake in Colorado. They are all mountain men, meaning they were all born and raised in Colorado. Still, I was worried.

What would they do, I asked myself, if something really serious happened, like a medical emergency, a heart attack, a bad fall, if someone got struck by lightening. They were expecting sore feet and aching muscles; they had prepared for that. But the air is very thin and electrical storms move across the mountains every afternoon. Cells phones wouldn't work up there and I doubted that there would be enough space for "Flight for Life" to land a helicopter if the unthinkable did happen.

As the mother of sons and an independent daughter, I knew enough to keep my mouth shut. The only thing I told them was to please take care of each other. I prayed and then let it go. I had to.

But then, I remembered an incident with my oldest son on his first day of Kindergarten.

He didn't want to go, had a temper tantrum and had to be dragged up the walk towards the multi-colored windows of the Kindergarten class by his no-nonsense mother. Then he looked up and saw children inside that window and noticed that some were looking back at him. I remember how suddenly he jerked away from me and plowed ahead to a door decorated with happy faces, his head down and fists clenched. He would do it, by God, but with no help from me, thank you very much. He has been that way all his life. They all have.

They're home safely now and since they've been back, I've kind of surmised that maybe I was not so silly to worry a little. Generally everything went well, though there might have been a few harrowing moments along the way--I haven't heard the full story yet, but there was nothing life threatening, principally because they had planned well. They helped each other and lightened the load of anyone whose pack was getting heavy or had the sorest feet and the most blisters by taking a break and allowing him to soak them in the icy mountain streams.

Their four days apparently turned into rare moments of sharing -- a little excitement, adventure and re-learning perhaps, that, as in life, one must take one step and then another to get to where one is going in spite of fatigue, stumbling, tripping and even falling; gasping for breath with each step in order to beat it over a mountain by early afternoon before the lightening comes and then rushing down again to set up camp before the rain hits. The truth is, you still have to climb the mountain to get to the other side. A cliche, yes, but cliches are cliches because they are generally true.

At the risk of mixing metaphors, this is my take: we are all heading up the mountain, aren't we? Whether rebelling at the first day of school, trudging a dreaded pathway, or pursuing long ago dreams, raising a family and embarking on a new career. It's one breathless step and then another with a few blissful moments of rest in between, icing our blistered feet in a cool mountain creek and enjoying the intensity of the incomparable Colorado sky.

It's called life. And it's worth every aching muscle.

No comments:

Post a Comment