The wind rattled through the jagged rocks, tousling her hair violently. She felt gripped by fear as she clung to the cold rock alongside the steep, exposed mountain. She had no hope of shelter anywhere near her. Only cold, bare, unforgiving rocks with small but extremely deep crevices. One misstep and she would be in a world of hurt and trouble. She had only one option: onward and upwards. Going back was not an option since it had become clear that this was the weather up here. She had tried waiting it out, but time did not bring any softness to this part of her journey. She finally realized it was do, or don’t do. She couldn’t wait for an easier opportunity because it just was the weather here: it was always formidable. She had to just go with it. She didn’t have to like it, but she did have to do it if she wished to pass through.
She looked ahead to see what was around for her to grab a hold onto next. She was navigating this exposed mountainside with both her hands and both her feet. She noticed she had stopped breathing again. She forced a breath of air in. The air hurt here. It was cold and the oxygen was different. Her lungs felt squeezed. She was cold, her fingers felt raw from the death grip she held on the rocks. Suddenly, rain drops started to whip her flesh. The wind picked up even more violently now. The rain started splattering off the rocks, hitting her face. She tried to close her eyes into a squint so that she could see, but so that she wouldn’t get splashed in the eyes. Oh no, this is going to make it slippery, she thought. She lifted her right leg up and then moved her left leg, then reached for another part of the rock to hold onto as she moved her legs onward and upward. She took the smallest steps that she could so that she didn’t feel like she was going to fatigue her body from the effort of the steep incline. The last thing she needed was her body to give out on her here. She needed to be as careful and deliberate as possible as she could here. She pressed onwards, slowly, carefully. It did not help her to look ahead. That just made her feel worse. She just focused on her exact place now so that she could avoid injury or pain. Her body was responding so well to her, no slips, no trips, just one reach, one grab, another reach, another grab. If she could just get her mind to stay here she would be safe, but she couldn’t help herself but to have her thoughts keep betraying her safety- she kept thinking about the other side. It wasn’t helping her. In fact, it was hurting her thinking about the other side because it made it difficult to stay present with this monotonous, grueling climb. She kept having to bring her focus back, and then she kept wishing she were anywhere else. Suddenly she realized- the worst part of this mountain was her own internal battle with her own self. STOP DRIFTING THOUGHTS she demanded of her mind. She paused her body for a moment, forced a smooth, deep inhale of the uncomfortable air and then exhaled slowly, then decided ‘I’m going to stay in this experience- ALL OF ME, mind and all- until I’m no longer in this experience.’
Her thoughts did not argue. Finally she was able to focus all of her energy into being right there, she was able to focus on the wind. The rain. The sounds of howling as the air moved swiftly and thoroughly through the jutting rocks and notches and she noticed she could even hear the wind whipping through the leaves of the trees far beneath her. It was incredible. She actually felt more alive now than she had ever felt before.
Suddenly, this landscape, although formidable, no longer gripped her with fear. She knew there were no less dangers, but now she felt capable of seeing and sensing dangers before they consumed her. She trusted her body. She started to grab a rock that was loose so she let go and moved her hand to a different rock, this one felt secure, she lifted. She exhaled. On and up she pressed.
She would get there by being here first.