The mountains have been whispering to me my entire life. I just didn’t listen to them with lucidity until a few weeks ago. It is not guaranteed, but it is possible that what I have been searching for most of my life will be discovered atop this pinnacle of purpose that rises before me. It is my hope that this mountain of reason, logic, quality and all of the other fine philosophical points in between, waits with discovered determination at the summit of me.
My momentum swings sideways with the twisting and never-ending switchbacks. One foot in front of the other with my own steadfast approach is the pace at which I choose for this present line. I turn my focus to the method in which I breathe. A deep inhale follows, right behind it a long and drawn out exhale. This dovetail technique of breathing seems to allow me the prospect of bypassing exhaustion altogether. Who would have thought that apposite breathing was so cooperative?
There is something I begin to feel stir through my feelings as I gain elevation. It’s almost like my mind is lifting itself above the flat land endemic of confusion. I stumble with acuteness upon Cathedral Lake. The serenity of her stillness empties my mind of all thought for a few moments.
I see a rock. It is shaped with the expediency of a lawn chair. I start walking towards it and I find myself staring into the mirrored clarity of this wilderness lake and observe the reflection of the mountain behind me and then myself. The sensation of insignificance that I feel, forces me into a guarded posture. I shake the shit out of my head and deep within a feeling of insignificance, I have absolute composure for the first time in my life.
“It’s when the mind is pure and still that it can put all points of perspective right and under the shroud of heaven.”
I see everything with a different set of eyes these days. I try and listen for all of the things I cannot hear and everything becomes much more clear. I stand and walk to the lake’s edge. I touch the surface of bliss with my foot and the effect is gentle and flowing. It ripples with a delicate pattern across the unbroken surface of eternity. It does not interrupt the stillness, instead it transcends the way in which I visualize the value of life’s quality that surrounds me. It feeds my satisfaction and I stand with more gumption than I had moments ago.
A recollection of a past occurrence flickers with the kind of vividness that exists only in a memory, which makes me grin. The future seeps through and I see it as a mere plan that is meant to collide with the present at any given moment. The only reality that I face is standing right in front of me, two thousand feet in extended elevation. This reality is no longer intimidated by time or fatigue. The path ahead of me is not a means to an end; it is the way to which it all makes sense.
I devour an apple and proceed to rip open a generic fueled granola bar. I examine the wrapper and the word backcountry, spins my head into a deeper cycle. The backcountry should be considered in a way that exemplifies the environment of theological thought. All civilizations and theocracies travel through this same backcountry of thought, with the same divine denouement waiting perched atop the same pinnacle of purpose. The difference lies in the many trails that distinguished theologies have developed to reach their own summits of sanctity. The trails all lead through the same stream of consciousness but the terrain one must cover varies with significance. The views are diverse when approached from different routes. It must also be conceived that the views from the differing summits are identical and the bliss experienced is also constant amongst all of the distinctive theological dogmas. It is also the strides in relation to the pace at which we climb the ever-changing terrain that provide us with clandestine clarity.
I caught a thought earlier on the hike. The thought that erosion is starting to give notice alongside these high-trafficked trails of serenity. Erosion is a definitive process. It is a process that while slow and methodical it can have devastating effects on the well-defined landscape that once thrived in its absence. Much like the effect it has within the landscape of a mountain, erosion also has an adverse effect the mental landscape of elevated thought. I call it mental erosion, because as time keeps chugging along so do the ideas and the philosophical undertones of those ideas. The trails that have been beaten by the feet of seekers of truth can become so eroded that they must be shut down and closed for the sake of safety and the sanity of other seekers.
Over the course of history there have been men that deem these trails impassable, they then reroute these trails. This is done because man no longer trusts or believes in the quality of the original path. Mental erosion is a process that crawls, but by logic it is the only course of action that allows societies to be situated by moral beliefs of what is right and wrong. By doing this, the very definition of quality has proven itself as undefined.
I finish my snack and tighten up the laces on my shoes. I gather myself and focus on the breathing technique again. I take a gander at the path ahead and agree with myself that I’ve always been the type of person to wander off of the beaten path. There are some of us that prefer to approach the less traveled route and make our own leeway in the direction of our singular pinnacle of purpose. I look around and decide that I must employ my pioneering disposition and this leads me to the decision that I have to blaze my own trail up this mountain. And that is what I do.
Mountains are to be ascended with as little exertion as possible. It sounds foolish but it is true. It is also true that one should not hold any amount of aspiration for the sole purpose of bragging rights. Mountains should be respected not defeated. One doesn’t conquer the mountain once they reach the summit they conquer themselves. The reality of your inward nature manages the pace at which you climb. There is an equilibrium that exists between restlessness and exhaustion. It is the binding of this balance that once achieved the sky is the limit, or in this case, the summit of Mt. Tallac.
As I gain elevation, the thinner air loosens my skeptical thoughts and I start to feel more aware of a transcendent presence. I feel more in tune with myself. I believe this is because the deeper I venture into this wilderness, the louder the voice of reason echoes within my mind. I begin to isolate myself with the distinctive and widening environment that encompasses me. Out of nowhere, I become more aware of the significance of how insignificant I a really am. The environment in which we live embraces its own philosophical concept. The natural world is not something we should strive to control and influence for our own gain. After all, Mother Nature is God’s muse and if we are manipulating her for her resources, are we not manipulating God for his continued hospitality? The momentum behind living well is equivalent to how comprehensive we preserve the roots of God’s Country.
I look around and realize that I have found my way back onto the established trail. I am rather content with this because the path I chose was a little steeper than what my comfort level is used to. I am also glad because the granite field before me is ridden with hidden crevices that could put a damper on any given ankle’s daily routine.
As I continue climbing, I forget about the breathing technique and I feel the suffocating effects almost in an instant. I have to stop and rest for a moment. I am doing everything I can to catch my breath, finally after minutes of heavy breathing, I turnaround and think about giving up. I could just turn around and head home, call it quits, nobody knows I’m up here, so no one can be disappointed in me. I see a path about a hundred feet higher in elevation than where I stand now. It looks a little less traveled than the path I am on now. It is also almost at a ninety degree pitch to get up to the path. I think long and hard about what I should do. I dust the motivational muse off of my head and start heading back down the mountain. That’s when I heard the voice again. “Keep climbing,” it said. I spin around looking for any sign of life and that’s when I was greeted with the most unparalleled panoramic view of purpose.
In seconds I found myself on the elevated path. I am on the high road and it is high time to finish this journey of discovery.
To Be Continued…