I used to work at my mom's pharmacy during my summers in high school. This meant a lot of cleaning, the chore I hate the most. Since I was an extra hand, I would often have to clean the nooks and crannies that were usually forgotten, but one summer, this became a blessing in disguise because I found a battered copy of Jon Krakauer's "Into Thin Air", wedged behind a computer. I started reading it more out of boredom, but at some point halfway through I found myself fascinated by this one man's journey up Everest, and the sacrifices involved. Now, I am not a particular fit person nor had I ever desired to climb a mountain before. In fact, I think before reading it, I would have been one of those skeptics about the whole mountain climbing thing - why do people bother doing this? Is the view even worth it, anyway? I think these are probably the questions asked by those who have never climbed mountains; those who have wouldn't have to ask them, because they would probably be irrelevant questions at that point. I wonder if for non-mountain climbers like myself, we see these pictures at the top and think eh, this is alright, I can just google this - but for those who get there, it's not about that picture, but that whole experience, that whole journey. Maybe it's part of seeing it all around you, of there not being any border or corner where the picture ends, of knowing it took time and effort to get up there, and of looking down and thinking wow, I did that.
With all that said, I am still not a big mountain climber. The tallest "mountain" I've ever hiked was this hill in Hong Kong with parents on a parent teacher excursion day (yes, we had those). You can imagine that a field trip out with students and their parents wasn't a particularly strenuous or difficult climb. We've run up Mont Royal here in Montreal a few times, and it's pretty cool, but I'm sure it's got nothing on Everest or Kilimanjaro. I remember hearing some of my best friend's stories about climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, and I remember thinking, crazy/amazing/no, actually crazy. So I guess I say all this with an outsider perspective, although it is a curious one, fascinated by it and wanting to do it, but at the same time not sure if I'm able to gall up the courage to.
I think mountains are fascinating to me because they represent so much of life's highs and lows. That you can reach a peak and a high, but you don't stay there forever. I remember reading in Krakauer's book about reaching the peak, but then having to think about the journey down and whether they had the supplies; it made me think about how the goal was probably not just to climb up the mountain, but to make it back down too. But getting up there, surveying your surroundings - that must be something people look back on again and again, and must be this experience where time slows or quickens. Makes me think about our wedding day - I remember that day felt so fast and just flew by, but I know I hang onto that day as one of the best days ever. So even though that day has come and gone, I remember the covenants we made, how loved we felt. And I think this is why I'm so fascinated with mountains - they represent for me this special experience that perhaps doesn't last forever, but reminds us too of it. I think this quote captures it perfectly:
“You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place ? Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know.” - Rene Daumal
I think this is faith, that even when we cannot see the views or even see the mountain, we can still trust that it is still there, that we once climbed it, that we once saw those beautiful views, that it is all still true. I have a hard time with this - I know for sure that I have moped and whined about not being able to see what I'm doing or what God is doing in me, or what I'm moving towards or what He is moving me towards. But I guess that's what faith is - remembering that He is good and has been good and WILL do good, even if I don't see it right now.
All that to lead up to our valentine's day project that I wanted to share! One of my favourite things to do with D is to create art. It's funny - we probably didn't learn that we loved to do this together until after we got married, even after dating for 8 years...! But I love getting to make art together - we listen to music, we talk about silly and serious things, and at the end, we stand back and look at what we've made as a reminder of our time together. And now, whenever we walk into our bedroom, we see the piece we made together and we smile. We bought a Stendig calendar this year, and when January finished, we delicately ripped off the paper, determined to make something out of it and not just throw it away - the paper itself is so beautiful (I think this was more of my determination than his though... haha)! My friend, knowing my love for washi tape, sent me a picture of something she had seen on Pinterest (thank you, paper place, for your inspiration and beautiful washi tape collection!!!) and so I showed it to D, and we got to it right away!
And there it is, with the afternoon sun on it, the back of the numbers coming through. Even though I don't think D is a fan of how obvious it is that we used the back of the calendar, I like it - it reminds me that time passes, but that some things stay on in us. Our wedding day is over, a year and a half over (!), but it stays on in my memory. We come down from the mountain, and I think it's what we do when we're going downhill or stumbling through valleys that forms us and shapes us and our next journey that we take.