Went on a hike yesterday. Or better still, scaled a mountain. Not really exciting, I know, but it did remind me how grateful I am to be able to use my legs, arms and head to get going along these trails of life. Poetic, don’t ya think?
Seems so small to be grateful for the use of one’s limbs; to be physically active, but if you don’t have that ability and would like to have it…well, you know what I mean.
I am friends with folks that do not have this gift. They are some of the best people I have ever had the good fortune to know. They were physically adept in their earlier years only to be felled by some form of physically malady or another, robbing them of the use of their arms, legs or the rest. Some have polio. Others have debilitating diseases that wreak havoc on their physical abilities. Their minds, though, are sharp and focused like a laser beam. Their comprehension of the world around them is as clear as a fresh-water stream. They are, indeed, the better folks of this planet.
They do not complain or bemoan their state of affairs. “What’s the use,” they repeatedly say to me. “It doesn’t do anybody any good. Life is good; a gift, actually.” I am in awe of these folk. Their courage, resolve and discipline is inspiring. At least, to me. If I was in their condition, I would probably lock myself away in a dark, curtain-drawn room, sit motionless, watching endless reruns of “The West Wing” or the History Channel’s “Mountain Men.”
I would bemoan the state of my affairs to anyone who would listen. Endless whining, whimpering phone calls to unfortunates who suffer through my blaming the world for my woes. “Woe is me,” I would mutter, over and over – and over again.
Instead, these better folk live on like thoroughbred soldiers, with a sparkle in their eye, laughter in their soul and a desire to help those who can’t help themselves. They, most assuredly, have helped me – time and time again.
So, up the side of these mountain I go, backpack hoisted over my shoulders and like a sure-footed mule or careful-minded mountain goat, ( by the way, both are better looking than me) I plod my way up the side of Boney Mountain in the rugged landscape above the town known as Newbury Park, California.
Huffing and puffing, I scale this mountain, up small trails designed for men and women of slight stature. If you’re over six-feet, you will not be able to slink through this underbrush or up these 60-percent rocky grades. But what a great way to spend 5 hours on a Sunday morning.
And in a very small measure of appreciation, I take with me those folks who have taken me with them through a road of self-discovery and relief from self-obsession driven by immature selfishness.
I have them in my backpack, if you will, as I scratch my way to the top of this mountain. When I arrive at the peak, I look out over this incredible landscape of rocky peaks – large cliffs which appear to be horizontally sliced by a huge razor blade – lush ravines, deep creek beds and low-hanging fog; a moving ocean of white inspired by a God’s whisper, “Everything is OK,” the whisper soothes. “Everything is OK.”
Quietly, I thank those better folks. I hold them up to the sky so they can join in this moment of physical exhilaration, grateful for their leadership, mentoring, but most important, their friendship.
In many ways, they are the reason I’m on this mountain top this Sunday morning. They carried me here. What a deal.