Over the past weekend, Linda and I went mountain climbing in Little Rock, AR, you know, like it was a regular day of shopping. For me, it felt that way. Fairly easy. It felt good to be in my natural element (earth sign represent!). It reminded me of the first time I climbed Mount Pinnacle.
It was the peak of summer and the sun was harsher than the day before. My ex had woken me early in the morning (aka 9am) to go climb. As with anything new and requires effort, I was stubborn but needed some motivation. Unfortunately there was a misunderstanding that turned into an argument that had a resolution involving Krispy Kreme donuts.
By the time we reached Pinnacle Mtn. State Park, I was more ready than I was at 9am. I stood at the head of the trail, psyching myself up: I can do this, I can do this. He’s going to make sure I don’t fall off reeling backwards like Gaston from Beauty and the Beast. So, to the 2nd mile-mark I was fine. But there are 10 mile-marks. By mile 3 I was huffing and puffing like crazy and drenched, so I took off my shirt and wrapped it around my head, like an Arabman in the desert … without a camel to ride on. By the grace of periodic breaks, we continued to climb. Him in front and me struggling behind.
At some point the bounding over rocks started to wear on my body. My determination was strong, however. I laid on the rocks, heaving and gasping for air. Even in that moment, I knew I could do it. I knew I could get to the top of that d*mn mountain. But I needed him.
“I need you … to just … hold my hand. I know I can do it, but I need you to be here.”
He came to my side and instructed me to breathe and try to relax. He took the shirt off my head and informed me that I was overheating myself. He poured water on my neck. And I felt better. My breathing was steady, and he helped me up.
We journeyed on and made it to the top.
Floored, I exclaimed, “We’ve conquered a mountain together. We can make it through anything.” He agreed.
Making two people get along and work together is arguably the hardest thing in life. One of the most astonishing things I’ve realized in being part of a relationship is that usually when there is an argument, it’s not (just) because the other person is an idiot and is refusing to see your point of view. It is because they have their own point of view, their own needs that they want you to acknowledge and understand as well. I believe arguments happen when two people are being selfish at exactly the same time: I want you to understand and acknowledge my needs.
What I needed from him that morning was encouraging words while ignoring my moaning and groaning. He needed me to be gung ho about climbing a mountain. At some point I became gung ho about it, but I needed a graceful push to get me going first.
When Linda and I came to the spot of pointy rocks I mentioned before, where he and I met each other figuratively in the middle and climbed the mountain *together*, I sent him a picture of that spot from my cell phone with the words “Do you remember?”
“Of course,” he said, followed by a smiley face. I issued gratitude to him for being a great lover and friend.
When we reached the peak of the mountain, other mountain-conquerers were resting and encouraging newcomers, taking photos of their triumph. I settled on a rock apart from the chatter and looked at the lakes and the tiny islands within them. I usually feel empowered when the wind is blowing. It’s like a gentle push in the direction I know I need to go. In that moment, it was blowing hard, nearly pushing me off the mountain, but I knew what it meant — to keep going, to keep climbing.