Sunday, 6 September 2015
The Cry of the Mountain
The Cry of the Mountain
I woke up and I was giddy with excitement and euphoria. I knew what it was I wanted to do! But then I looked at how difficult it would be to begin, I saw the mountain towering above me, and as I gazed toward its lofty summit, I knew that it would be impossible to reach it. "Madness!" I thought, "Utter madness to even think I could do it." I started to turn away and as soon as did, I began to feel a sense of relief wash over me as the mountain slowly faded from my sight, and with it, my dream, like the leaves of autumn, falling slowly around my feet to be lost, and reborn in another time and another life.
In that moment of turning, through the waves of relief that washed over me, I sensed something else. I caught the sound of faint cries carried on the wind. I paused to listen because my instinct told me that someone was in great distress, someone was out there, floundering and lost, and if I could do it, then I was going to help them. The cries were coming from behind me, from the very place on which I had just turned my back. I felt a compulsion to keep going, to ignore this cry for help, but I could not. I had to turn around and to see what I could do.
The act of turning would not come and I stood, frozen in space and time, as the last cry echoed and died away around me. I knew that if I did turn, towering high above me and bearing witness to my cowardice, would be the mountain that I knew not how to climb. I was caught in hesitation between that which scared me and the cries for help, and the compulsion to keep going, with my back at the mountain, and to ignore everything and to pretend it had never happened, that I had not heard the voice. The cry came again only this time, although it was fainter, I could discern its urgency and dire need.
I cannot explain why I did what I did. I've looked back upon this moment in the times since and I am still unable to say what happened. I recall taking a step away from the mountain only to stumble at taking a second. It felt as though the entire universe was watching me at that very moment, I could feel the weight of its gravity pushing down with such crushing force, piercing my soul with its gaze. For an instant I stopped. There had been no further cry for help and perhaps it was this that gave me pause. All I know is that pause I did and it felt like the universe held its breath in unison. I moved again, only it was not to take a step forwards as I had been expecting, it was to turn myself about, to look upon the lofty peak of that impenetrable mountain once more.
I waited and listened for the cry, my eyes searched the trees, scanned the lower levels of the mountain, looking for anything that would give me a clue as to the location of the helpless victim. I saw no one, I heard no one. I walked forward a few paces altering the angle at which I was looking into the trees, hoping that perhaps I would see some colour that would indicate an item of clothing. Nothing. I stepped forward a little more, scanning the mountain ridges, looking at the gullys, fixing my eyes on the trees. Still there was no one. I decided that I would give it up, that I had perhaps heard the cries of an eagle or some other bird of prey on the wind, on the hunt. I looked once more time and then I saw it.
There, in among the darkness of the trees was an opening I had not seen before. Could it be the way through? I tried my best to guess the direction it would take through the forest and I lifted my eyes up to scan the lower slopes of the mountain. There! Could it be? It was almost too good to be true. What looked like a trail, barely visible, wound its way up the mountainside for some distance before disappearing. I could not have seen it from where I had been standing before. It only became clear once I had taken a few steps toward the mountain.
I began to walk forwards. I do not recall being aware of this until suddenly, looming up before me stood the trunks of the ancient and mighty trees in the forest. Now I stopped once more, not in hesitation but so I could remember this moment. I turned and looked back from whence I had come and I saw that already I had travelled some distance along the path. Perhaps it would become harder now. I tightened my pack, took a deep breath and plunged forwards into the forest, into the unknown, taking one step then another along the path.
It was then I heard the laughter all around, coming from everywhere all at once and I knew that the laughter was from the same person who had cries out in distress before. I smiled and then I too laughed and I laughed with great and profound joy. There had never been anyone else. The cries, just as with the laughter had come from within myself. My heart had spoken, my heart had known the suffering that would have occurred had I walked away from the mountain, and it had known that my dream would have been lost, perhaps forever. Now, it was full of joy because at long last we were together making the journey, our journey. We were on the path towards our dreams. Perhaps we would never reach the top of the mountain. Perhaps the trail would stop part way up. But at least now I was going to find out. I would discover all there was and I might find out more than I could ever have realised. This was an adventure. Together, my heart and I, we were on the path. We were on our true path, and now the possibilities were endless.