Last year, I knew I had strayed very far from the spiritual core of my being and needed to take actions that would be extraordinarily disruptive and hurtful to many people in order to get myself moving back towards that core being. Yet, I had wandered so far that I was lost to myself and unable to be the man I needed to be for those most important to me. In fact, over the course of 25 years, many of the most important people in my life had walked away, impatient with decisions so inconsistent with the beliefs and values that I professed, I didn’t make sense and made me look and feel like a shell of a man. I knew this needed to change, that I needed to get on a new path so that I could be the son, friend, father, etc. that I needed to be for my own well being and for those who were still lingering around.
Yesterday, I climbed Mount Monadnock in Jaffrey, NH for the second time in a year. The first time, I did so with someone who was more than just a good friend, but the person who was able to see past the facade and reach inside to wake up the potential for goodness that I had lost touch with. We climbed on a cool, rainy day and at one point I stood on one of the ledges and looked out over the vaguely familiar landscape of New Hampshire emerging from the fog and knew I had to start believing in something again. I couldn’t have known then what that was, but did feel the essence of Nature comforting and had a vague sense that the end state would be to believe in myself and my place in the world around me, in the lives of those around me. In time, this journey needed to be taken alone, but those first few days, weeks, and months, I was grateful for those who reached out and offered vague encouragement and began to build cairns for me out of the rubble of my life that would guide my trail.
Yesterday’s climb was cleansing and as I stood on the top, this time a warm and sunny day, I looked out across this landscape of the only place I have ever called home, and saw something more than just vaguely familiar. On top of that mountain was a new, still incomplete version of me who now saw the threads of goodness that had been there throughout his life. Threads that were beginning to be sewn together to make a new, more authentic version that fit the spiritual core of my being. I picked up a rock and added it to the cairn then talked to and encouraged a stranger who was struggling down the mountain on a recently repaired ACL. Eventually, I pressed on having a place to be later that afternoon, but I saw in this person what I have seen in so many – to be human, we must all accept our flaws, own them and then figure out how to overcome them. Until then, we are simply strangers to our cores unable to see the familiar landscapes around us; unable to follow the cairns slowly built up by friends and family, rock by rock out of the rubble of life; unable to truly live.
I plan to climb Mount Monadnock again next year, maybe then with someone or maybe with several people, I don’t know. I look forward to seeing the landscape, how it has changed, how it remains the same, how it feeds my soul.