Thursday, June 27, 2013

Slowly, ever so slowly….

Sometimes your story isn’t the Legends of the Fall or Last of the Mohicans, or God forbid, The Notebook.  It isn’t extravagant and wild -dancing in a thunderstorm.  It doesn’t come with a flash and a bang like fireworks exploding in a summer night sky.  Sometimes it doesn’t overwhelm you, suffocate you, and flood your being.  No… sometimes it comes slowly… creeping steadily into the facets of your normal everyday… filling in cracks of time that you didn’t know were vacant… taking up your Friday nights, weekend afternoons and your days.  It comes in the form of cooking meals together after work.  Running errands.  Going to the gym.  Watching a Redbox on the couch.  Doing yardwork.  Normal  life... 

And one day you realize that your time and thoughts and even heart have been infiltrated … and it doesn't look anything like you thought it would. 

Does anything look like we thought it would?

Finding your purpose?  Building your Career?  Meeting your someone?  Making a difference?  Raising a family?  Do any of our ambitions pan out the way we expected?  No… often, it is harder, messier, and more rewarding than any of our fairy tale dreams.

And that is life: a slow, unraveling story different and better than your most cherished expectations.  Sometimes it drags and you don’t know what the Author is doing or thinking.  You want to shout: “Get to the point already!  What is happening with these characters?!  Where is this story going?!!”   You want to put it down and pick up something more stimulating.  You want suspense and drama!  You desire heated romance and death defying feats.  You turn to other things looking for your cravings to be met… but when you remain unsatisfied, you concede and pick up the story again.  And what you get is the steady revealing of dynamic characters whose end is unclear and to whom anything is possible.
There are days (many in fact) where I wish I could read the Sparks Notes on my life- where I wish I could skip to the synopsis and see, in a glance, the beginning, middle and end.  Just to know.  But there is something lifegiving about the uncertainty. The maybe’s and possibilities.   Especially when I know and trust the Author.  I have faith in His ability to write a worthy and excellent story.  He is not a novice writer fumbling with paper and pen.  He is the Great Storymaker.  And I am blessed to be a character written on to the pages of His grand tale. 


And so, I take heart.  When life is uncertain and feels monotonous and dull… when I don’t know the next turn in the plot or how long I’ll be walking down this dusty, barren road… when I wonder “Where is this story going?!” and lose interest …  I remember: Sometimes the best things come slowly… and I patiently (and painfully) pick myself back up and try to turn another page.  

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

to new heights

Half Dome:  /haf dōm/ (noun/verb)  a 16 mile, 4,800 ft elevation change, granite stair stepping hike past 900 feet of waterfalls concluding in 400 vertical feet of gnarly-hold-on-for-your-life cable climbing excitement in the heart of Yosemite Valley.


 The hike was arduous to say the least... with multiple moments where I wished/prayed/pleaded for a piggy back ride or a mule to come and transport me to the top.   The steps pounded my knees and ankles.  The elevation change left little oxygen to fill my lungs.  The trail felt endless.  At one point, in the middle of the evil sub-dome steps of death (as they shall always be referred to), I dejectedly sat on a rock and conceded that the stupid mountain had won... to which I was quickly ordered to get up and get moving by my faithful support squad!

I wanted to cry.  I wanted to throw up or throw in the towel... But I wanted to make it.  I may have slowed to an almost glacial pace and stopped for a breather every 2-3 minutes (with faithful friends by my side)... but like the tortoise or little blue engine, I tried to keep plugging along.  And eventually, after what felt like an eternity...and after so many kind encouragements and affirmations that its ok to rest sometimes...  I made it.

I battled more than steps, elevation, and fatigue along the way... I came face to face with some very real, very ugly personal demons.  Ones that told me I'm not good enough, fit enough, fast enough, slim enough, active enough, outdoorsy enough... that whispered maniacally into my head that I was dead weight and my group would be better off without me, snarled insults about my body and told me to quit, turn around, go home.  Insults quickly spun out of control, encompassing almost every shortcoming, fear or inadequacy in my life.  The hike was hard, but the strain didn't feel proportional to the sharp pokes from these devious gremlins.

But now that these vile insults have fully surfaced, I can look them in the eye and figure out what to do with them.  How to fight them.  How to rise above them.  I'll tell ya one thing, they look a lot smaller and weaker from the top of 8,835'.

I am grateful to have this little accomplishment under my belt.  To look back and think, ya... we did that!  Sure, my feet felt like raw hamburger and I was almost unable to move the next day... but its done. and it was great.  and I'm proud of it.  And the views... oh... the veiws.  Breathtaking. Unbelievable.  Holy.  I was awed and overpowered by my surroundings.  I'm starting to understand this granola eating, nature-loving, wilderness hiker thing that people do.  It is powerful and enriching to the soul.

I went to have some fun, see some trees, and climb a rock.  Needless to say, I got much more than I bargained for...