April 13, 2017

How to Overcome the Sweet Beckoning of Familiarity & Comfort.


On this morning, the grandmother cedars are dusted in a sugary snow.

Yesterday, they wept rivers of rain onto my head. Drops falling so heavy and determined, my ears rang if they hit my hood just so.

Never having made it to the top of the mountain in the deluge of yesterday, I tackle the same trail under a snowy makeover. Yesterday, I turned back not knowing how much more there was. I threw in the towel, unsure of the destination, the elevation. I went back down, opting for comfort and telling myself there were more important things to do. And people counting on me.

The pang of turning back, not reaching—it is familiar.

I stand at the trailhead today. It looks altogether different. Fresher. Brighter. Or maybe it’s me.

This morning, the path is an inviting white ribbon spinning up the side of the mountain, and the thin saplings bow demurely under the weight of their snowy caps. Today, I wrap my arms around a mossy trunk, my arms barely covering a small portion of her girth. I whisper my thank you, and my cheek comes away cold.

“Today is the day, my dearest,” I hear her sigh.

I begin the climb, certain that my footprint of this morning is landing in the indent of yesterday. This familiarity does not give me strength. I make the climb with a deeper determination, one rooted in muscle and bone and heart. My lungs burn in a new way that leaves a coppery taste of exertion on my tongue.

I look up and realize why. I have gone higher than yesterday. I have gotten to the place where it is a shorter distance up than down.

The trees no longer wear such thick coats of emerald fur. A grey fog has gathered around their skyward reaching heads. The trail underfoot is less path and more stone. Less obvious and sure, and more try-this-way-if-you-dare.

I hear the voice we all hear when the air gets thin and our soul is pumping loud enough to be heard. It is the voice of reason trying to talk sense into my stretching spirit—the sweet beckoning of familiarity and comfort. It tries to convince me I have seen enough. I’ve done a bit extra, better than yesterday in the rain and mud.

Let’s call it a day. Let’s call it a life.

My soul and I choose to persist. I huff the air and smell the colour green—minerals and moss. I hear a glistening raven call high overhead. I am convinced it sits at the end of the trail, the peak of the mountain. Waiting. And I follow the call because it sounds like my spirit, unbothered and clear. Unwavering.

As is always the case with anything of value, the final dig and claw are sharp. Exhausting. I slip once, then twice. A knee is bruised, and a hand is scored. I lick the blood from the lifelines on my palm, ingesting what keeps me alive.

Morning bleeds into midday, but it feels like a brand new dawn when I finally scramble to the end. The forest breaks open onto a field of fledgling spruce. I grin as satisfaction thrums through my legs and lungs. It is a new view with so much to see.

I look over the short crop of trees at what I believed was the summit and shake my head. Across the way another trail awaits, another opening in the forest looking like an inviting gap-toothed grin. I smile back, anticipating the next climb. A different trail.

The snow begins to fall, and I hear the raven call from deep within.


Author: Melanie Maure

Image: AleksandraGabriela/Flickr

Editor: Nicole Cameron

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Melanie Maure