Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Mountain Climbing

Climbing up a mountain is easy.

You face your rocky foe, hands at the ready, locked in proximate embrace with its rising challenge; you realize there is some danger ahead of you but you sense there is greater danger behind you, far below, behind, gratefully beyond your forward-looking focus. Steps are taken up and forward, careful, safely, slow. The moving pace of the ascent is measured. A welcome pause is always part of your periodic choice.

Climbing down is much, much harder. Leaning back, while moving forward into undefined space, there is no solid rock handles to grip, while the mind is working to retain memories of prior mountaintop glories, successes; only to find them fading in the reality of gravity's present inexorable pull. You find there is little time to think, to reflect, to rest; a misstep will send you plunging tumbling forward, face first to your doom. Doom is always present, and always within gaze: as the future is inexorably forward, only too real in its gravitational pull. Rest is only somewhat possible; without hands to grip a tangible rock, balance is left up to the legs, toes. No sure grip there: ten dwarfed appendages, not supple like friendlier, more familiar fingers. Descent is rapid, always fast, faster than one would desire: an unfulfilled desire to succeed, to end; to reach a final destiny, to settle in a plot of flat earth that says: "I'm done; you're done; it's done...What mountain?"

Youth's slow climb is always much more preferable to age's quick descent.


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