When this whole situation first began, I saw it as a mountain. The peak was a long way up, but you could see the sky behind it, clear and crisp and beautiful, and you knew that as long as you kept putting one foot in front of the other you’d reach the top. Then you’d get to the top and the descent would be so graceful and easy with the bottom in sight that you’d forget how hard it was to reach the top. And reaching the other side of the mountain is what it’s all about, in the end.
We reached the top and I had a brief moment of triumph before I saw the way down. On the way down there’s a forest in the way. It’s so tall that it blocks out the sky, and so thick that you can’t see more than a few metres ahead. It’s depressing that you don’t know how much further you’ve got to go so you focus on the few metres in front of you and it’s tough because there are all these roots. It’s dark and gloomy and you trip because you don’t know where to put your feet. I’m remembering what the sky was like on the way up and wondering why I was ever in such a hurry to get down the other side. The journey to the top was hard, sure, but it still had all the hope of what was to come. And I could see what I was doing and where I was going and remember why. This… well this is just horrid.
And in this forest, it’s so difficult to forget that the ground underfoot slopes downwards. That each tree you pass and each root you step over is one that you need not think of again. That each step takes you closer to the other side and that when you get out the other side you’ll see the sky again. And better than that, the air is thicker because you’re lower down and it’s easier to breathe. It isn’t as cold and there are flowers blooming down the slopes. And at the very bottom you can see a little tea shop so that you can have a piece of cake and take stock and pat yourself on the back and decide that you never want to do something like that again.
But most of all, because you’re so focussed on not slipping up, you forget about the person with you. The person that made you want to make the journey at all. The person who on the way up was always so clearly right beside you and when you tripped they just reached out a hand and helped you up. In here they’re busy with their feet too and they keep tripping too and you want to reach out and help them but you’ll fall over yourself if you do. And it’s only in those moments when they trip that you look up and realise they’re still there. And you wish you could help them and get you get frustrated because they’re just out of reach. You get so lost in the forest that you forget about everything else.
Then you reach a bit with a clearing, and the sky peeks through, and it’s just as clear and beautiful as you remember and you wonder why you didn’t think of it before. You’re on steady ground for a moment and you can stop and catch your breath. You take the hand of the person that you’ve been unable to touch because you both got bogged down in stuff and the sunshine sends down shimmering rays that light up their face and you get lost in awe at how beautiful they look and how warm and soft their hands are. And you look at the rest of the forest and how much further there is to go and a strange peace comes over you. You’ve haven’t forgotten how difficult the rest of the journey has been but it doesn’t matter. This next bit is all that matters. And as long as you’re together you’ll get out the other side. So you squeeze their hand and steel yourself and carry on, because now that you’re here, you’re damn well going to finish what you’ve started. You’re going to conquer the mountain.
That tea shop is going to be so, SO good. Because you’ve fucking earned it.