Friday, July 16, 2010

The Climb?

“Ain’t about how fast I get there/Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other siiiide..” Ok, wait. Last time you took a hike to the peak of some famous mountain or ascended innumerable stairs toward the top of a great building, didn’t you care about what was at the top? Did you not wish with panging legs that you were at that peak now, and not in two hours? Do you now truly remember “the moments” of the climb?

Miley Cyrus, a smattering of emo-y/pop singers, and about every fifth country song invite us to cast off our worries and struggles and just enjoy the voyage; forget about the destination and embrace the current situation even with its rocky fa├žade and jagged-y thorns. Ok, there may be something to that - I feel that if it’s widely thematic there must be. Plus I tend toward similar convictions from time to time. But let’s not forget that life is hard and simply enjoying the ride can be tough. It’s about the climb, the ride, the journey, the getting there . . . the getting where?

I realize that there are sadistic people in this world who do enjoy hiking for the sake of hiking. These are close relatives to those who enjoy running for “the runner’s high,” which I firmly to believe to be a myth. But I would be willing to bet large sums of money that even avid hikers take lingering moments to absorb the beauty of the view at the top before turning to descend the apex. I can understand the satisfaction of overcoming a challenge, sure. But it is the reward, the beauty, that renders the satisfaction, not the challenge itself. Even within the climb, it is not putting one foot in front of the other lead-packed foot that delivers contentment; it is the surroundings, the company or the solitude, the knowledge that you will eventually see that view, which is beautiful.

And what of the ride? I love to drive, typically far and alone, but a good road trip is enjoyable to, this is undeniable. But ask anyone who has broken down, done the road trip with screaming children, or driven through Atlanta during rush hour, the drive is not the point and can be unbearable. Driving however can hold with it the opportunity to think, laugh, sing out loud, experience beauty. I love to drive, but somewhere in Albuquerque I developed the habit of sleeping as a passenger (and of trying not to as a driver), despite the sunset painted evenings and balloon dotted morning commutes.

And life, as it goes, is not a singular road trip to New York City or a one-time hike to the top of Arthur’s Seat. Life is a cross country journey, on foot. Even after you pass through the Appalachia and endure the dreary of the plains, the Rockies remain. And hell, as far as I know, once you reach the sandy beaches of the Pacific, you may have to turn in another direction . . . or swim. So life, life is less about the journey (because a journey may take you nowhere) and more about the view – the beauty, even if you have no clue where you are going.

“With the moonlight to guide you/feel the joy of being alive” - Morcheeba