2018, Thank you
So we all know that this life is full of peaks and valleys. We have our ups, downs, plateaus… it’s a crazy adventure. What I realized is, in an effort to stay unshaken on this ride I have been missing half the trip. A long, long time ago, I became a constant wind glider.
I was just a kid when the trip I was on offered it’s first deep, dark valley. It was scary. On my walk down into the dark I saw wind glider, and, instead of walking down, I hopped on and began flying. Everyone applauded my bravery for taking such leaps and flying so high. I assumed that I had made the smartest choice for travel. I continued my habit of skipping valleys — always finding a beautiful, colorful wind glider to take me high above the Earth, show me the picture of all that was possible and keep moving forward without even touching the ground. I’d touch down on a couple of peaks, enjoy the view, even walk along the plateaus, but whenever life would say it was time to walk down I’d find — or build — another wind glider.
And it felt great.
Flying that high can be lots of fun. You see so much, you know that the world goes on forever and that for every dark and shadowy valley there is another peak. You know, and can see clearly, that no valley lasts forever.
But in 2017, just when I was landing on the highest peak I ever set my eyes on, the Earth quaked beneath me, and a landslide took me into the darkest and deepest valley I had ever seen.
There was no light in my valley. There was nothing to see, and it only felt cold, damp, and uncomfortable all of the time. The boulders of the mountain that crumbled with me were sharp and piercing. Moving hurt. Of course, there were no wind gliders, there was barely even a breeze to speak of. Nothing but my own physical effort could get me out of the situation I found myself in. I was lost and unable to remember there was a way out. I forgot that every valley has an exit. And the couple of times I had thought there might be, without all the years of practice, I had no idea how to climb. And since I never, ever went into the valleys before no one knew where to find me.
I stayed in the dark.
I didn’t even try to call for help because I figured everyone else was wind gliding.
But time marched on and as the world turned the sun peaked its head into my valley when 2018 came around and I saw the place I had been ignoring for a really long time, not all of it had been covered in rock. The valley is so different than the mountains and the view from the wind glider, and you know what? The valley is where the river runs and I have been very, very thirsty. I drank. I explored. I didn’t like everything I saw, but I didn’t hate everything either. The stuff under the rubble was beautiful, and even within that broken debris I could see some amazing gemstones that had begun to develop inside the mountain that would have remained trapped if it weren’t for that earthquake. I started to understand that every part of the journey had some beauty to offer. Then I thought I saw some people close by so I reached out, called out, dragged some down with me, while others willingly walked down to meet me, and I borrowed climbing tools and learned how to climb… very slowly.
I’m a climber now.
Not a good one, by any means. I mean, I’m just getting started over here, guys, so I keep falling and getting hurt and I probably spend more time stuck in the valleys than I should. I should have had TONS of practice by now, but I never let myself forget that there is a way out and that I CAN climb.
So 2018 has been one of the most important years in my life, it seems. It’s the year I quit wind gliding as a way of life. I see wind gliders sitting all around waiting for me to pick them up and start soaring again, but I’ve been walking slowly by. I’m walking. I’m climbing. I’m hitting every step on this trip and it is exhausting and I hate it when the valleys get dark, but I call out now. I reach out. And my people know that I go there sometimes too, so they know to look for me if I’m gone too long. Every step makes me stronger and the view from the ground is so much clearer than when I was soaring too high to see the details. The air is easier to breathe on the ground. Storms are easier to weather on the ground. The feeling of the Earth beneath my feet is nourishing. But, most importantly, the delicious river water is racing through my body now and I don’t feel thirsty anymore.
Thank you 2018. Thank you to all the people on my journey — the search parties that found me, the people who fell with me, the people who lent me their tools and taught me what they knew about climbing, and the new climbers I met along the way.