On climbing hills

After climbing a great hill, one only finds  there are many more hills to climb.  -Nelson Mandela

My life has taken some twists and turns in the past few years.  Some paths have been exciting and mind expanding others have been heartbreaking and others still have been absolute drudgery.  In recent months things seemed to have settled a bit and I've been coasting.  One way I think about it is, I've been riding my bike up a challenging hill, huffing and puffing, sweat dripping into my eyes, my legs screaming with pain then suddenly I've reached the top of the hill and before me is a long downhill run.  I'm still breathing hard, sweat continues to drip from my face, and my muscles continue to sear with pain, but with the residual discomfort of such exertion comes a feeling of rest and impending restoration.  Uh, oh, reality check.  The most interesting journeys, in my humble opinion, are full of rolling hills and changes of scenery.   As  I approach the bottom of the downhill coast, I am faced with another in a series of life's hills. In other words, my period of coasting has come to an end and once again I am starting up another of life's rolling hills.  My dear friend Sue calls these rolling hills, f*#king opportunities for growth. This is interesting to me for two reasons; one, my friend Sue is in her 70's and it's funny to hear older folks drop the f-bomb; and two, in her saying this, I realize that one never really gets to coast through life, rather,  life will always offers up challenges and transitions.  What makes the difference is how we face those challenges and transitions. Climbing hills requires focus and strength and endurance.  Coasting, at first is exhilarating, but soon becomes a blur; the scenery zipping by too quickly to notice and the wheels spinning so fast it's hard to get into the most efficient gear.  And your butt gets sore.  I actually like the hill climbing better.  Five years ago, in the midst of the end of my marriage, I waved goodbye to my children as they all left home to attend university.  It took some time getting used to not doing my housewife/mom-job 24/7, but I climbed that hill with a lot of blood, sweat and (mostly) tears.  Over Memorial Day weekend, the last one graduated and on Thursday two of them moved back home; one for just a few weeks, the other for a time undetermined.  My house is suddenly full of more stuff, more clutter, more noise, and another cat.  To be sure, they are each facing their own transitions so we may be in for a bumpy ride, but am up for the challenge.  In fact I am hoping that in negotiating the changes in my home life I my become more focused in other areas of my life.  To be more specific, I hope this domestic upheaval will curb the tendency for sloth that has been the hallmark of my last few months of coasting. Yes, me thinks it's time to stop sitting on my butt letting life zip by, get out of my saddle and start pumping up the next hill.

Here's a blurry little sketch I did months ago, long before I could even anticipate what would come next in life, but somehow it seems apropos, for my recent college graduates anyway.  I imagine I'm off on the sidelines cheering them on.


  1. Well said (and illustrated)! Good luck with all of this, Betsy!

  2. you're right, Betsy, about the climbing/coasting ratio being a very tricky balance. Will we ever get it right?
    I like how the cycling graduates in the sketch are connected by their hair.
    I can hear you cheering them on, as they ponder and choose their directions.