I’d been wanting to climb a 14er all summer. I was wrapped around and obsessed with this idea of perspective. Within the context of this year, maybe I felt like it would give me some sort of revelation about it all.
The day before I called my dad nervously, “Dad, since starting school it’s the worst shape I’ve been in in years. I’m over-extending myself. I’m not sure I should do it. I just need you to tell me if this is a realistic fear or if I need to get over myself and just do it.” My dad is my point man when I don’t know if my fear is being a trustworthy friend or if I just need to kindly acknowledge it, and then do it anyway. Per usual, he told me to just do it.
So, 4am the next day, I was on the way to just do it.
In Colorado, we have this thing called type-II fun. Type I fun is immediately satisfying, instantly gratifying, and could be compared to the thrill of picking up a prize with all the
tokens you just won at the arcade merely by showing up and playing. But nothing was really lost or gained other than a good time, probably a couple drinks, and some sort of token reward which you may or may not keep. Meaningless and hilarious fun is an important part of life. I’m its number one fan.
Type II fun usually involves a struggle. Type II fun involves climbing over boulders, scrambling up scree fields, and pushing your quaking legs up the final ascent. It usually involves some scrapes, bruises, and most definitely at least one moment of, “Why the hell am I doing this?” Yet, it develops within oneself the ability to struggle well- which I don’t think is often honored in our culture. Nor do we really have much experience in it. We’re not told the struggle is an okay or even good place to be. Yet something sacred is found within the struggle.
Flying down Highway 24 in the dark towards Buena Vista, a misty fog began to settle in over the high mountain plains. Cold and windy, we bundled up as the sun began to rise. Everywhere around us, we were surrounded by clouds underneath our feet, as the bright orange and red sky settled in to the soft blue of day.
What a moment.
What a perspective.
Even as the clouds are distant and small.
Just the same, it holds us all.
I don’t know if the feeling of standing on top of a mountain can be beat. In this case, even the clouds were resting beneath my feet, nestled kindly in the rolling drainages of the mountain, blanketing the plains thousands of feet below. It’s not the idea of conquering the mountain that makes it worth it- I’m not sure mountains were made to be conquered. I’m not sure man was made to be conquerors.
But it’s what we find in ourselves along the way.
Something sacred is found within perspective.
But here’s the thing- you can’t have perspective without a struggle.
They just come together.
Over and over again this year, I’ve said, “I can only imagine the perspective we’ll have five years from now. 10 years from now.” Because right now, we’re in the middle of the steep uphill slug, where your quads are sore, your calves are cramping, and your water just keeps getting heavier no matter how much you drink. And very rarely does anyone say, “The struggle is okay.” And understandably so. We trip over boulders of personal baggage, fall over past history, and lose our breath over the gusts of wind that make forward motion seem impossible.
Struggle is Type II fun. It makes us ask, “What the hell am I even doing here?”
Turning back is way easier than climbing on.
But then we miss the perspective.
If you’re in the trenches, in the middle of the struggle, lean up hill, friend.
The struggle is a good place to be. Perspective is waiting.
What a very good gift perspective is.
We see our story and our struggles within a greater picture.
We see the path we tread before and the path ahead.
We realize our fragile and beautiful finiteness in the glorious landscape of all that is.
My deepest desire is the perspective this year gives us makes us more compassionate and loving people, who realize both the depths of our brokenness and the depths of our love. Who see and know struggle and hold it tenderly for the gift it is. We see and hold each other tenderly, for the gift life is. because we have all shared so many collective wounds this year.
The struggle is good.
The perspective we gain is even better and infinitely and immeasurably worth it.
And within all of that, it’s love that moves us forward. <3