Take It From the (Mountain) Top

Looking at things from the top of a mountain lets you get a perspective like nothing else. Cliché? Absolutely. But that cliché about clichés being born out of some truth is true here.

A little getaway to Big Pocono Mountain (aka Camelback Mountain) in Tannersville, PA, was just what I needed last week to think through some of the most important things I have learned in recent years.

Looking northeast from the top of Big Pocono. July 20, 2018. 

One of my first thoughts as I looked down from the peak was about the vast panorama of lives and experiences going on at the same time as mine, none of whom knew that I was standing up there thinking of them as they gambled in Mount Airy Casino, or raced down a waterslide at Aquatopia, or drove a pick-up truck down a steep windy road foot on the break and still going with gravity.

And then I thought of my own drive against gravity to get to where I was. Of course, there is no escaping the metaphor. In the climb – the hard grind of the gears as you move upward, onward – that high pitched hum reminds you of your own exhortations and interjections as you play your own game of tug-of-war with the physics of the universe. Fighting inertia. Fighting gravity. You have done hard things, made tough climbs.

(I don’t know why this is writing itself in third person, but maybe I need to step back from it a bit.)

Looking out over the ocean of trees below, a vibrant green except for the darkness under the cloud cast shadows. Walking through a dark, shadowy forest is a metaphor you have often used in writing about the periods of depression you have walked through in the past, and that others  are struggling with every day. And what you have learned over the years is that the very next step can bring you out of the darkness. From this mountaintop POV, you can see the truth of that. You can see that the shadows are finite. There are patches of deep, deep dark in every direction you look. But each patch comes to an end, and after that, the light.

Up here you can feel that the vastness of your world is limited only by your ability to see it.

You can see that there are mountains – big, small, rolling, steep. Walls of sedimentary sandstone, boulders dressed up now in greenery and you can’t imagine how you’d ever get through them – but you got through to get here, and you will get through to keep going.

You can see the notches between hilltops – places where water and wind and persistence have proved stronger than stone.

And the butterfly’s visit reminds you of your mother.

And the hawk circling above draws your eye up and toward infinity, as the fly bites your ankle and brings you back to where you sit. At the top of the world, or your world at least, with a view to live for.


Post Script:

There is always a little research on the fly as I write. Today’s research brought this piece of knowledge courtesy of Wikipedia:

Camelback Mountain or Big Pocono is a conspicuous geographic feature on the Pocono Plateau. It is not a mountain, but rather a peninsular section of the Pocono Plateau, that when viewed from three sides, appears to be a mountain.

Whatever side I was on, it definitely was mountainy.

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