Lately I have found it very difficult to concentrate on any one thing for long. This has impacted the amount of writing I’ve done on my blog. I’ve sat down at the computer day after day and opened up a new post and then stared at the screen for a while before closing it again and giving up as I couldn’t pull any thoughts together, chose a topic, and write about it. Today I found myself doing the same thing yet again, and yet I’m forcing myself to write nonetheless. As much as I love to write, lately it’s seemed like an insurmountable peak to me to put anything down in black and white.
A song came to mind earlier – Climb Every Mountain, from The Sound Of Music. This musical has special significance for me as it was the first film I ever went to see in a movie theater back in the 1970’s. It was a re-release of the film as it was made in 1965, a few years before I was born. Back then, and for many years after that I thought the song merely referred to the main character (Maria’s) enjoyment of climbing the hills as she did when she sang ‘The Sound Of Music’ against a beautiful mountain background. Somewhere in the past several years I’ve learned the true meaning of ‘climbing every mountain’. It involves facing the tough situations….the challenges you encounter in life…rather than merely avoiding them.
Recently I ‘climbed a mountain’ and wrote an apology to someone for something I did more than twenty years ago. It was an apology to a girl I dated on and off from childhood to young adult years, and then unceremoniously and rudely cut off contact with her. I wanted her to know that it was not her fault or responsibility that I had done what I did. I explained where my head and my heart were at back then, acknowledged what a terrible choice I had made, that she deserved better than I had given her, and apologized for what I’d done. It took me two hours to write it, whereas I needed to really dig back to that time and reflect upon my true motives and intentions. I’d waited so long to say what needed to be said, I wanted to ‘get it right’.
When I finished writing the apology (in an email), I read through it several times. I carefully scrutinized my words, looking for anything that might appear to be avoiding responsibility for what I had done. When I believed I had truly claimed ownership for my actions, I hit the send button, but not before I let myself have one more ‘oh shit, what am I doing’ moment. Then off it went…into cyberspace. I breathed a sigh of relief and felt a weight I’d carried for far too long lifted from my shoulders. Goodness knows I have enough of them right now, enough burdens that I’m carrying, so to rid myself of such an old one was a truly liberating experience.
I’ve had no response to the email. I didn’t, quite honestly, expect one. That’s not why I wrote it. I don’t know that she can or will ever forgive me. Certainly it might be nice to hear from her, even after so many years. But even if I don’t…..that’s not the point of why I wrote to her in the first place. I did it because I wanted to…because I needed to…because it was the right thing to do, albeit many years overdue. I did it because I had been ‘afraid’ to do it so many years ago, and knew it was time to face up to it.
My kids sometimes ask me what things I am afraid of. I answer them honestly that I fear snakes (more than any other animal), and I am afraid of falling from a great height to my death. I’ve been in high places…and definitely experience vertigo when I do climb a ladder or look out a window in a tall building. Even watching roller coaster videos makes me ‘anxious’ in a way. I went to see the movie ‘Gravity’ in a movie theater, and sat there wanting desperately to get up and leave for most of it, but finding myself in a way afraid to stand up, like I was going to fall…..it was the oddest sensation. I could feel the floor beneath my feet, and yet something inside me told me if I stood up it wouldn’t be there any longer. I also cannot look at snakes even on television or in a movie without picking up my feet, or at least wanting to. They make me cringe.
Yeah, I know, I’m a freak.
I’ve never done anything to try to conquer either of these fears, and I honestly can’t say I ever will. I don’t encounter snakes regularly and have no desire to try skydiving or parasailing or bungee jumping. I’ve flown in planes and gone to the observation deck at the Empire State Building and looked out over the city, but that’s as good as it’s going to get. Those are two mountains I won’t climb, or am not likely to do so.
There are other things I fear, but they are difficult to articulate to young minds. They are things that live deep within me and shoot for the surface every once in a while. They are things I don’t know that I can make understandable to a seven year old and an eight year old. I don’t even know that I understand them all that well at forty-five. I explore them and analyze them with my therapist, but sometimes that just leads to more questions, rather than answers, and simply serves to confuse me more about the fears whereas I cannot for the life of me find a rational foundation for them or a precipitating event.
What I do need to express to the boys, rather than the details of things I fear and why, is that even if there are some things you never, ever try to work out or get beyond…it’s important to be able to separate those things that don’t really matter much, like a fear of snakes if you don’t live anywhere near a rainforest or have an overwhelming urge to visit one…..and those things that will travel with you through life in the form of guilt and regrets. Those are the things that it’s most important to stare down and go toe to toe with. Living with regrets and guilt eats up so much precious time and life is short…too short. Say the things that need to be said. Find the strength…find the courage…..and find someone who will be there for you no matter what the outcome is with someone else is.
Those are the fears to conquer.
Those are the most important mountains to climb.