The small drops of sweat fall from my brow, moving with such speed that tired eyes barely struggle to find enough energy to focus. I place a hand onto the grass covered rock, steadying, stopping and taking a moment to exhale tragically beaten air taken from exhausted lungs. Looking around with squinting eyes due to the sunshine beating down onto my frame, heating, expelling further energy, ensuring that each step and thought is harder than the next.
With my other hand I rub my eyes, removing the grief sustained and built over the years, the moments that have made me blink in amazement, shock, fear or even moments of joy. It’s a struggle, it’s easy, it’s magnificent and above all, that great big mountain of life that we all must climb. I let go of the rock, placing my hands either side of my body and stretch my back. A smile reaches my mouth as my spine thanks me for the sudden gesture of relief, a few seconds respite, before I carry on forward.
I could say that the climb’s been hard, that it’s battered my body to within an inch of its life but, if I’m brutally honest, it hasn’t. Sure, yeah, I’ve had the moments of tears, the screaming aloud while driving, the seconds of anguish that still haunt my heart and still present in my mind when I look to the side of my soul, but compared to others, compared to hidden moments, I’m thankful for what I have and where I’ve been.
I place a foot forward and then bring the other foot in front of the other, moving, again, inching away from the path trodden before. Each second, hour, day, moves me ever forward to the mountain top where I meet the end, the everlasting sunshine where everything turns to white and my smile finally fades. I know I cannot go back, I know that I have my memories of each person, of each place, of the kisses and crimes and weeks of silence.
I turn my head to look behind, to see what’s been left behind but I stop myself. Instead I look down and then, just then, I become sad knowing that I’ve made mistakes, I’ve said some awful things and done even worse but, when I look up the mountain, when I turn to look up again, that’s time that I can never get back, that I can never return to. I remind myself to let it go. I reprimand myself and silently apologise to those that I have wronged.
No, never, not again, not in this place, in my life and this moment. I must move forward and although I can see the distance in its faded fashion, although I can envision such a melody playing in the days to come, I know that each step I take on this very day, right now, will form what I hope will be my future. As my legs ache and my hearts forces me to venture again I take another step and, at the start of each day, that is all I can do. Take another step. Never give up. Never stop. Never fade. Never, ever, ever, let the people climbing the mountain next to you slow you down. It’s a challenge, it’s a kind of race, it’s all a certain conclusion that together or apart, we’ll all reach the top one day.
Another step moves forward and I notice that I no longer need to carry my guilt. I no longer need to feel the weight of the world on my shoulders. We can forgive, we may never forget, but why carry these things up this mountain? I stop, again, to reflect. I need this trip to be as light as possible, to be free of doubt, free of pain, light of heart and with eyes of hope. Licking my dry bottom lip I drop the guilt to the side of me, letting it fall into the wind and, as it flies away, I wonder why I hadn’t accepted my part in things years back. It may have taken those years, it may have weighed the same as a hundred hearts upon my shoulders, but once you accept what has happened you can let it go. It was my fault, it was your fault, it was the fault of the world but in the end… it matters not.
I move, smiling as I go, holding out my hands, waiting for another to place their faith onto my fingertips. I might be moving, people might be moving, but for a few moments, maybe even for a day or a year, I can hold the hand of another person. Let them go, welcome them in, never own them and let them be free. I ask nothing less or more on this journey.
I notice that I’m still smiling and, for some reason, each footstep is getting easier and a bit quicker. It takes a while but, in the end, life can get easier. My foot, along the way, has managed to get stuck a few times and although I asked for help, although I faltered, I knew that I always had the power to free myself from the quagmire. It is fear that halts all of us, it is pain that seems to make each of us weak, believing that we cannot climb on our own. Take that step, raise your weary body, dust yourself down and keep climbing.
Tomorrow, the next day, maybe in a few minutes, I’ll see you on the climb and, hopefully, I’ll be smiling and so will you. After all no-one ever said that this climb was going to be easy but, as long as we’re in charge of our footsteps, we have to make them count.
See you soon x