My house is high on the rim of a volcanic crater. This is a good thing when you live in a tropical environment and you don’t check the weather for temperature and chance of rain (sunny, 80’s, 10% chance), but for tradewinds and the occasional tropical storm threat. This is also a good thing when you need to get in shape.
I took my lazy body for a run around my neighborhood, which dips to the valley and rises around the crater again in a three mile loop. I started strong on my one mile downhill with an exhilarating, almost childlike love of running, having a fleeting desire to hold my arms out and holler, “Wheeee!” and continued running on the flat valley where I started to feel the many weeks of inactivity in my muscles. I decided I would walk back up the crater and when the climb started, I smiled and marveled at the nature around me and felt blessed to live in such a place.
But the mountain would not end. It would not stop going up. My legs started to give out, my head was fuzzy from heat, I needed water. I worked to keep my torso upright, but kept wanting to slouch, even crawl, the rest of the way home. So, I did what I always do when I’m uncomfortable…I looked for a way out of it.
There was no way out.
The only way through was up.
There was no giving up. I couldn’t turn back, there was another mountain that way too. It was literally uphill both ways. But then it hit me. It was just like life. I have to climb the mountain to do anything, I have no choice. The only way through is up.
I had to conquer the mountain, and suddenly I had to conquer my unfounded fears too—three inch flying cockroaches and customer service reps and parallel parking. And yes, I've been trying to get a book published for six years, but that’s okay, because the only way through is up.
Then it happened, I made it to the top of the mountain. Sprinklers went off beside me and cooled my skin as I strolled along the grass-lined sidewalk. I turned a corner and saw it—another hill looming in the distance. Just when I think I've made it to the top, there’s another challenge to overcome. I will never really arrive. And the only way through is up.
My fingers started to swell on this last hill, my shirt was soaked with sweat, and when I finally saw my house, Spaceman came on my iPod, like some kind of iPod ESP. “Spaceman says everybody look down, it’s all in your mind.”