Well, I turned forty last weekend. I’m surprisingly okay with that number. I mean, it took a little bit of processing and a whole lot of emotional taking of stock (oh my gosh, <insert life event> happened how long ago?!), but more than anything, I feel like I’m standing on this great mountaintop and I’m looking across a nice, wide summit at this amazing gift called life.
And it’s good.
Earlier this month, I hiked the Domingo Baca/TWA Canyon trail in the Sandia Mountains. My husband did it about twenty years ago and always told stories about it. Mostly about how tough it was, but worth it. We’ve waited and waited until the kids were old enough to make it without complaining too much or needing to be carried, and finally, this was the year!
If you’ve ever read any of my books, you’ll know how much I love my mountains. They call to me. So we answered, the five of us, with our backpacks, lunches, and water. We ventured out into an overcast day with a chance of thunderstorms. Not exactly optimal weather, but we prayed it would hold out until we were finished. It mostly did.
And I just have to interject here that it was pretty much the equivalent of climbing UP the stairs in our two-story house repeatedly for five straight hours, stopping to rest, eat, sip, and shutterbug, and then climbing down those stairs for two more. Yes, the incline was pretty much the same. No, I’m not exaggerating. Much.
But for about an hour in between the going up and coming down, we explored the wreckage of a Martin 404 airplane, once TWA flight 260, that crashed up there in 1955. Being up there in the middle of it was sobering and adventure-inspiring at the same time. To walk among tragedy and see how nature has taken it over was absolutely incredible. (And of course, now hubby and I have a book about it on request with the library!)
I came home with my family that evening ravenous and uplifted in a way I haven’t been in years. Connected with my people, connected with nature, connected with God. And we were drained and sore, but we did it! Over seven miles in a day. I’m sure you can imagine.
When it was all said and done, it was exactly what I didn’t even know I needed to reset my perspective. There’s something incredibly wonderful about experiencing the wild world with those we love. And adding to that the thrill of a successful adventure? Happy sigh. Like that wonderful feeling you get after reading a whole series back-to-back and it ends just perfectly.
That night when we came home, I was reading (as always haha). The story was going a little slower than I had patience for, so I read faster to compensate. It got me thinking about how we voracious readers enjoy a story’s climb. The build up of anticipation, the long looks between hero and heroine, the tension and conflict that grow as everything rushes toward the peak and then resolves. But as I recalled standing on the giant rocks, looking down at the world below and seeing how far we’d climbed, it reminded me to not only slow down and fully experience the climb, but also to enjoy the summit a while.
To savor the best part of the story, both in the books I’m reading and in real life.
Plus, you totally know this adventure is going into a book. *wink wink*