“It’s almost eight miles, Kat,” he says. The morning ischilly, but the sky is a deep blue, too blue to be atmosphere and must beinstead something tangible, touchable, bending in at the pressure of my handsas I press. Around the corner, I hear the creek rushing. I shoulder my pack andsay, “Let’s do it.” The trail lollipops through the woods—meaning, we start outand end on the “handle” of the lollipop, and make our way around the outside ofthe “sucker” part.
We follow the creek a while, then begin the incline. I munchnuts and fruit, and drink the water I’ve brought. It’s silent save for ourbreaths. At the end of the steepest climb, my right leg begins to complain; Iignore it, move on. We round the top of the lollipop and make our way down. Thedecline is easier, but the terrain is rougher—the trail narrows, we step overslippery rock, climb over a giant fallen limb from a tree that looks a thousandyears old. The pain in my right leg is expanding across my lower back and to myleft leg; I ignore it. We come to an ancient tree that reaches forever into thesky, its trunk as wide as Texas,and there’s a hollowed out space that I slip into. I stand inside its walls,and make up a story about a woman who hides in a tree so no one can find her,until she wants them to. I reluctantly step out of my sanctuary.
We come to a sign that reads: .8 miles to the trailhead. It’sbeen hours and we’re hungry for the wine and cheese we packed. But the pain screamsloud now. I hold my head high, pretending, so no one would know I’m hurtingthis bad. But, by time we are to the trailhead, I can no longer hide it; I’mlimping, and my lips are pulled in a grimace. It’s another “lil’ piece” beforewe make it to the bridge that leads back to our car, and by then my limp is muchmore pronounced, my lips pressed, my teeth gritted. But I don’t care; I’mexhilarated. I hiked the entire lollipop, and it was sweet! Once in the car, my grimace turned to a grin, Isay, “When can we do it again?”
Sometimes we just have to push through the pain to be wherewe want to go. Sometimes the painful struggle is worth it if we appreciate what else isgoing on around us–if we see what we long to see and do what we long to do and be who we long to be. Sometimes there is just pain and that’sjust how it is but there’s much more to the experience so that the pain doesn’t completely define us, but as well, the journey to where we want to be.
Thanks for the day,Mother Earth, Father Sky.
What pain will you push through for what you love or desire or where you want to be? Will you say, “It was worth it and I’ll do it again?” or give up before you complete what you desire?