Sunday, September 15, 2013

On Writing

Before you begin, you’re standing at the bottom of the bluff looking up. The sight both thrills and terrifies you because the question of Is it surmountable? is still unanswered. So you make your first choice: Do you begin? Or do you simply admire it and, when you’re done admiring, walk away?

You don’t walk away. You find the trail, or you make one, and you walk. This particular bluff is steep, which is of course why you picked it. But soon your legs are burning and your breath stings your lungs and you’re nowhere near halfway up. At this point it would be oh so easy to turn back.

Today, though, you push yourself on. It’s hard. Every step is one where you could stop and say enough. You’re tired. Also, what if you have to pee? You’re in the middle of nowhere. More importantly, though, you left the car way back there, a world away, with all your belongings. What if something happens to it while you’re up climbing this silly hill?

But now you are halfway there. And when you take that next step, those worries begin to slip away. The space between you and world grows and you forget why your belongings are so important and who cares about the car, anyway? You know where you want to go and you’re not going to stop until you get there.

As you climb, higher and higher, it’s still hard. Your legs are still burning and your breath is still scraping your lungs... only you’re used to it now. You start to pay attention to where you are. The smells are sweet here and a little bit bitter, like berries and balsam firs and wet, dark earth. The clouds hang low, kissing your face and leaving mist in your hair. The wind hushes and the hawks soar. The higher you climb and the further away you get from the world below, the clearer things become and the more you can see. At the top you find a rock and you sit, looking out over the sea and the hills and the clouds hovering all around you.

And when you’re ready, you start your return. It’s easier going down. Your legs move fast. Your breath comes quick. Everything flows. The thunk-squish-splash of your boots is like the tapping of keys or the scratch of a pen on a page. You ride that flow all the way back to the world and upon your return, you look up and find that same awe-inspiring sight towering above you, except this time the question of Is it surmountable? has been answered.

With a sigh, you close the laptop or you set down your pen. And then you make yourself lunch.


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