Dark was about 20 minutes away. My mind reeled at pace with my body, lurching down with each step and cursing the steepness of the grade. My knees were avoiding/ignoring sharp pains at each and every step, exhaustion had fully set in, and in addition to the nagging feeling in my gut of needing a pit stop, the dogs were also barking. Loud.
Through a deepening mental fog, the dialogue in my head was sounding something like this: “This hill is lasting forever. I know I’m on the the home stretch. This is my hill! I’ve climbed to this ridge at least ten times over the last 8 months. My legs might actually be jelly spurting out from feet of fire. What is going on with me?! I feel so off right now….” The other vague nagging notion that was present through the layers was the fact that I had been trying to conceive for the past week, and as of 36 hours ago I was pretty sure it was happening and frankly I was slightly worried. All of this swirled around in my head as I took one labor ous step after another, and dug deep for the focus, the bright side, the wizard within that I was sure could get me home.
I knew that my thinking and my attitude was at least 80% of my experience, and so for inspiration and hopefully motivation, I cast my mind back to the last six hours of hiking. It had been nothing short of terrific, with all the right people and plot twists to make it a best day ever, euphoric, true camaraderie kind of day.
First there was Play Church at the top of Mt. Mitchell (the highest peak east of the Mississippi and also a convenient and beautiful 30 minute drive from our house), which involved a slight brush with the eager authority of the Park Ranger (apparantly you’re not supposed to drive with more people in your car than you have seatbelts for, or let your passengers ride with their heads out the window. Huh. Now I know). After a meaningful moment on the side of the road where he issued me an acute verbal warning, he was kind enough to take our extra passenger up to the top for us (after insisting that he put shoes on first, because apparently that’s another ranger rule), since we had an overflow of one. During that short trip up the driveway, my curious friend in shotgun found an tincture bottle marked Echinacea, while innocently pawing through of the backpack of Mr. Barefoot, and shared it with everyone in the car. Except me, for some reason. We all promptly forgot about that benign act of friendly thievery, and proceeded to have a jolly old time.
I live at the center of Deep, you see, being partnered with the woman who is half way through a dare to herself to share from the depths her essence, her genius, her authentic light with the world for 100 days, and going strong. And so for me, though slightly at the periphery of that center, I too choose this life wholeheartedly. I drink daily my own concoction of the milk and honey of the infinite. A casual 11 mile day hike through terrain known to be the hardest hiking trails in the east is a hell yes for me. On the week of conception. Sure, life. Bring it on! I eat that shit for breakfast and I poop out magic! (This is what I was telling myself to conjure up a little stamina on my wobble down the last torturous bit.)
Actually, that’s why you are hearing my voice here instead of her’s. Somewhere during the heightened state of hiking and acid tripping (oh, by the way, that’s what was in that little tincture bottle. Someone must have clumsily mislabeled it), Natalie suggested that her fellow hikers be the ones to post for her tonight, to offer a different perspective on The Deep.
And so on that last treacherous 200 yards of the most assholisly, insultingly steep downhill, despite the desperate desire to stop moving and assume a perfect savasana, I instead dug in to where MY deep could be found. And who was waiting for me there? Why, it was my genius, my magic! My authentic light. When I was a child, my parents tell me that my imaginary friend was a wizard. I have no recollection of this because I was only 3, but I have grown up to be the kind of adult who believes in my own wizardry, as my keen and all-knowing baby Buddha self so wisely and naturally gravitated towards. Stumbling down that hill at the end of my rope, through intense mental, emotional and physical fatigue, dusk breathing down my neck on that last stretch, my inner wizard was found in the joy. Of course it was! I found it looking back and smiling at the day so full of glorious green vistas, smiling compadres, big doses of love and friendship, laughs, mishaps, wonderment, spontaneous acro yoga, pine needle tea; it was found by finding the family in my heart that I was inching towards who I knew would feed me and care for me just the way I needed; joy ushered me down off the mountain with as much clumsy grace as I could manage, pulling from my deep within, a profound knowingness of all the flavors and textures of my own inner strength. And O! that shower has never felt like such a passionate kiss!