I ran this course nearly six months ago, on the winter solstice. Looking back on the intervening days is like looking down the mountain trail, marveling at the difference in viewpoint. But the experience of this day’s hike is such a stark contrast to my last journey to this overlook.
In December, the sun was my friend. I welcomed its ascent, as it brought warmth and hope to my day. Now I race against it, knowing that it poses a threat. The luxurious feel of unrestricted time is gone, both in the immediate and in the ultimate sense. To walk as I did then, thinking of my children and of the future, having hope that my actions may save my family, isn’t possible now. I knew then that my life was not the most important thing, that my children would go forth and make the world an amazing place and that I could rest in the knowledge that my love for them would be carried on. Only from this vantage point can I see how privileged I was that day, despite the fact that on that day, I felt I was at a low point. Not without hope – possibly a turnaround point – but a low point nonetheless.
Now they live within me, and I see threats to me as threats to them. Their image on my skin, their memory in my heart that guides my actions – the heat of the day and the treacherous terrain are hazards not just to me, but to those whose legacy I carry.
Gravity seems to have a new dimension to it, as though what I experienced in December was merely a flat picture of that force, and now I am walking through the landscape itself. I am weighed down both physically and psychologically. My determination to continue up the trail has no joy in it. It is therapy, and the only thing I dread more than the therapy is the disappointment in myself that would come with failure to soldier on.
I remember the joy of anticipation, the thought that I would get to share this place with them today. I was once convinced I was a selfish person, but how can that be when every experience is evaluated for its potential to bring joy to others on a return trip? Even the joy of solo exploration is primarily in discovering treasures that can be shared with my children. I have to re-learn how to enjoy exploration for its own sake.
It is a beautiful day, but without the spark I felt before. Like a masterpiece, coated in soot.