As much as I wish my life were a smooth, straight, well-paved country lane, wishing does not make it so. My life is a slow climb up a steep mountainside with so many switchbacks, dead-ends, and washed out bridges that I don't even know what direction I am traveling most of the time. Inevitably, as soon as I think I have a level, straightish section, where I might be able to coast on autopilot for a brief moment, out of nowhere a mudslide or boulder will come careening down the slope, missing me by a hair's breadth, and adding another obstacle to an already arduous climb. I should be accustomed to it by now, but every time it takes me by surprise. It could be that fatigue has lowered my ability to cope with the unexpected, even when I should be expecting it. For it has been a difficult climb, no doubt about it. Even if it takes me by surprise, my recovery time is swifter. I am more likely to take these obstacles in stride once the initial trauma and emotions have spent themselves.
At least I am continuing to climb upwards, which is a vast improvement over the last year, when it was truly one step forward, two steps back. Now I continue to put one foot in front of the other, with very little backsliding. Okay, there is the ocaissional backslide, but it is brief, and only a mis-step in the scree, not a full blown tumble off a cliff. I have had many a tumble, some quite extreme and involving some serious injuries, but I have recuperated, mostly, and am back on track.
I think the most difficult aspect of my climb may be the uncertainty of what may await me around every tight corner, every switchback, behind every mudslide. I can't see my way because the path is so convoluted. I like having a clear image of where I am going, what I am reaching for, what lay in wait for me. There is a fear behind my climb, as I reach up for a handhold, reach up to grasp a ledge, not knowing what may lurk within striking distance. I crane my ears for the sound of rattlesnakes, expecting my blind gropings to result in venomous snake bite. So far the worst that I have had is a few bee stings, minor gashes, scrapes, bruises, and only one broken heart (which healed fine, thank you), and some minor heart abrasions to remind me that I am still tender-hearted, not steel clad.
And so I climb, sometimes one foot in front of the other, sometimes hand over hand, sometimes on my belly inching forward. But still I climb. I know that I will finally round a curve and see the panorama of the world spread out before me. I know that above the dense canopy of forest that shades my progress is a blazing sun and azure sky. I know there is clarity ahead, even if I cannot see it as I climb. I know that I will find a clearing, a gentle slope, a straight path ahead, if I just keep climbing. And so I climb. I climb.