Dwelling in the Obstacle
She awoke to a cloudless morning, the sky was the sharpest, clearest blue; more blue than she had ever seen. The sun glowed, glinting off the marbled façade of the mountains. All around her, copper-toned mountains rose majestically against the brilliant blue sky.
She breathed deeply, inhaling the fresh scent of pine trees. A slight breeze blew, rustling the leaves, fluttering her hair. The morning was perfect and that gave her a burst of motivation. She stared up at the peak she intended to climb and inhaled once more. She repositioned the pack on her back, re-knotted the laces on her hiking boots, and took a sip of cool water from her canteen.
Then she was off.
A few hours later a break was forced upon her.
A wall-like rock confronted her, stopping her in her tracks. She sucked in a breath, stunned. It loomed in front of her, menacing, obstructing her path. She reckoned it approximated the height of her three story apartment building back home. She estimated that from right to left the boulder was fifty feet. She couldn’t fathom climbing that.
She walked towards the left side of the boulder and then gaped. Nothing was there. The mountain broke off, dropping thousands of feet into oblivion. If she took another step she would be hurtling through the endless abyss. She stumbled back to her starting point somewhere in the middle, gazing upward in fascinated horror. Its utter immensity frightened her.
She moved to her right only to be impeded by the rocky face of the mountain rising upwards in its eternal journey to the sky, giving her no leeway. She walked back to the center; she stepped back and took in the rock formation. Perfectly rounded like a salad bowl, it was a small hill, tiny in comparison to the mountains surrounding it. Yet it taunted her, sneered at her. It intoned: can you overcome me?
It was just a rock, really. She approached it until she was directly in front of it; put her hands up against it, felt the grainy rock against her palm. She looked up and her heart dropped; she couldn’t even see the top of it. She clenched her fists and returned to the towering mountain on the right, leaned against it, scratched her head. Then she walked across the stretch of ground until she stood once more at the cliff, staring down into the void. It terrified her. She hurried back to her starting point.
The mental image of a cage entered her mind.
She sat down on a small outcropping to catch her breath. The sky, still the most dazzling sapphire blue, contrasted against the mountains which jutted out proudly. The sun, bright and strong, warmed the stones. The rise and fall of hill and valley, the radiant sky, the fiery sun filled the entire spectrum of her sight. The beauty of it was lost on her.
The gentle morning breeze dissipated and the sun glared fiercely. She swallowed a mouthful of water and then frowned; the water was warm and had not refreshed her at all. The sweat dripped from her face; she wiped her sleeve across her forehead but to no avail. The beads of sweat rolled on, unconcerned with her discomfort.
She breathed, trying to recapture the morning calm. Despite her desperate attempts her heart rate began to accelerate
Breathe! Calm down!
She couldn’t. She stood up. This wasn’t a break. This was the end. The monstrous boulder leered at her, cutting off any progress. She paced back and forth along the length of the boulder, from the mountain to the cliff and back again, although careful not to come too close to the precipice.
The image of a cage returned, only this time it seemed to have shrunk in size.
The sun beat down, unrelenting, apparently unaware of her predicament. She paused midstride, crouched down, slung her pack off her back, tied a scarf on her head and reapplied sunscreen, and then continued her pacing.
Stop wasting time and deal with the issue! Internal Voice One commanded.
And do what exactly? Internal Voice Two countered. There is no way to scale this boulder, the sides aren’t viable options. What do you want me to do?
A helpless rage tore through her. She marched over to the mammoth boulder, kicked it angrily and then howled in pain. She sank to the ground, tugged off her boot, and clutched her throbbing toe as darts of agony shot through it. She moaned, rocking back and forth, eyes glittering with tears.
She stood up, hopping on one booted foot. She sagged awkwardly against the boulder, and the full extent of her predicament hit.
The two voices inside of her joined, welled up, and burst out,
“I AM STUCK!”
The sound rebounded off the mountains, reverberating.
“Stuck… stuck… stuck…”
She held her head in her hands.
“Stuck… stuck… stuck…” the echo continued to ricochet off the mountains.
Utter silence followed. Awestruck by the absence of sound, she froze.
And then realization struck.
I am stuck,” she murmured. “I’ve been dwelling in the obstacle. I need to zoom out.”
This gargantuan boulder would not thwart her. Maybe she needed to climb down, maybe she needed to call for help, or maybe she was on the wrong mountain to begin with. Either way, she would overcome the challenge.
She began stepping back and then laughed self-consciously even though no one was around. She bent down, pulled her boot back on, and continued.
She turned back from whence she had come. She stared at the path snaking its way down the mountain. Breathing deeply, she could almost smell the fresh scent of the morning pine trees. She repositioned the pack on her back, re-knotted the laces on her hiking boots, and took a sip of water from her canteen.
Then she was off down the mountainside.