Tag Archives: managing the good and the bad

A Hundred Times a Day

I quit this walk a hundred times a day. Really. Every single day.

I have conversations in my head all the time about how much I hate what we are doing, how I want my Barcelona life back, how I was happier then.

More often than I should, I count off all the reasons I want to stop, and all the things that make me tired.

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The Shortcut

“Look at the map. This dirt road may be a shortcut. We’ll avoid the main road and traffic, and maybe we’ll save a couple of kilometers.”

The sun is climbing over the horizon, the birds are up, and farmers on horses wave to us. The soft green rice paddies create the illusion of a morning hike out in nature, away from people and noise. We haven’t walked a trail like this for many months.

It sounded like a good option at 6 a.m.

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The Weight of Water

“I get knocked down, but I get up again.
You’re never going to keep me down.”

Ugh! I reach into the daypack draped across my chest, and rummage around for my MP3 player. It has slipped somewhere between one of my water bottles and the ripped baggie with toilet paper, hand sanitizer and sunscreen. I fumble over the fast-forward button and skip through a half dozen songs.

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Lost in the Long Stretches

We trudge forward. Hours drag on.

Each step brings us to another curve leading to a long stretch of alpine nothingness. It’s just us alone in the world, heads down and walking different paces alongside the Panj River that sometimes meanders a few meters below or rages through narrow gorges.

There’s comfort in solitude. There’s unity between the human spirit and the natural world. There’s also a simultaneous sense of bigness and smallness, being a speck in the shadow of mountainous greatness while having a heart large enough to notice the smallest rock sparkling in the sunshine.

It’s easy to get lost in these long stretches in between Pamir towns. The monotony invites a meditative calm, a peace that comes with moving at about three kilometers an hour. It often, too, stirs restlessness and a string of unconnected thoughts anxious for answers or impatience from feeling like we are going nowhere fast.

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Walking the Wakhan Valley

 

We round a bend on the bumpy road, and I am immediately spellbound. I want to ask the driver to stop the car so I can fall to my knees and bow in honor the beauty before me. My jaw keeps slipping towards my chest with each rock we roll over. My eyes tear up.

“My god. It’s beautiful.” I whisper over the lump in my throat. I can’t make my mouth spit out the words, “Stop, please, stop. We must see this greatness at a standstill.”

I have never before truly understood what compels climbers to summit the world’s biggest mountains, but now I catch a glimmer into their psyche. Staring at the Hindu Kush from the road snaking through Tajikistan’s southern corner, all I want to do is touch these faraway jagged, snowy peaks. Touching them with my eyes is not enough. I want to touch them with my soul.

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