In 2002, when I was 60 years old, seven of us decided to climb Blue Mountain in the Adirondacks. I’d done it before and wasn’t too enthusiastic, but here was a challenge. Could I still do it?
Our group assembled at the bottom of Blue Mountain: four adults, and three children. The children scooted up the mountain together, soon enough lost from sight. I tried to remember what it was like to have a body made of air – a mere nothing to carry up the mountain at full speed.
Toward the top, 4,000 feet above sea level, where it becomes a long, steep climb up sheer rock, I began to feel faint and nauseous. “I’m too old for this,” I muttered to myself. “I’m probably having a heart attack.” It was a relief to come upon my son’s strong, young fiancee sitting on a rock, her head in her hands. “I’m never going to do this again,” she moaned.
“I agree,” I was panting.“For what? What’s the point of all this suffering?” I took off my baseball hat and whooshed away the flies and mosquitoes. My hatband was soaked.
After a rest we climbed to the top and sprawled on the flat rocks like squashed bugs.
When we had recovered a bit, we sat up and watched my son and a cousin lounging, drinking water, enjoying the view of the lake below. The young boys were racing up the observation tower. My future daughter-in-law was puzzled. “It must be a mental thing. Or maybe a macho thing. Look at them. They look like they’re having fun.”
Yes, the view was fine, the weather fabulous, but I hadn’t changed my mind. “Maybe. It doesn’t mean that much to me. I’m never doing it again.”
The moral of the story: Sometimes you just have to put your head down and climb, but choose your challenges well. Marriage is like that sometimes.