Infrequently, it happens where I am in a moment of connection to the past. Tangible things are powerful to me. I’ve been trying to clean out the clutter in my life, actual and emotional. Yesterday, as I sorted through notebooks from my second semester of college in spring 2000, it struck me that I was touching something that I had last touched - really looked at - 15 years ago. I tried to remember the feelings, the emotions, the fears, the challenges; all of the things about my life then that partly made me who I am today. It was hard to remember. The mistakes, the pain, the suffering that I endured at the time – I didn’t know how to be grateful for that. I didn’t know that it would toughen me up for my future. I didn’t know that it was what I needed to shape the person I was meant to be. I do wish at times that I could have had that awareness then, but I’m grateful I have it now. I feel very blessed to have grabbed on at such an early age to the miracle and journey that is life. Some people never do.
It takes a lot of pressure, time, erosion, and build up to cut through the terrain of our lives; to create a pathway. It takes an even longer time to dig out from a path, so deeply grooved, that it can only lead to a dead end. It can require a lifetime to develop an acceptance of the pathways that lead us to right where we are. I wasn’t aware enough at the time to understand that future me would be holding the yellow spiral notebook, with a peace in her mind about the things that have transpired. I no longer look back and wish things had been different. I look back and appreciate them for how they are.
C.S. Lewis said, “Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different?” I was climbing up a cliff in the Badlands National Park on our trip last month, and as I was walking, it didn’t feel as if I was going anywhere or getting any higher. It was a hard hike, but, what other choice did I have if I wanted to get to the top? I wasn’t sure how long it would take, or if we were going the right way, but all I could do was look at the guideposts, and forge ahead. At certain points, it was a little scary and uncertain, but I didn’t let the uncertainty paralyze me. Suddenly, I looked down, and I could no longer see the road, the people at the bottom, or our little rental car, safely stowed away in the parking lot. All I could see was the beautiful panorama. It was the big picture, personified. The past year, I’ve just been climbing the mountain. I’ve stopped to look down a few times, but not often enough to admire, appreciate, or to be truly grateful for the effort. God, what a beautiful view.