I don't have a bucket list per se, but if I did, hiking Machu Picchu would be number one on said list. I have been dreaming of visiting this place since grade six when I made a tourist brochure as a school project.
For me, the idea of trekking to your destination is the key to a great experience. To simply arrive at the finish line, means that you potentially miss out on a lot of beauty along the way. And from what I've heard, the villages on the way to Machu Picchu are even more wonderful that the summit itself.
For our 20th wedding anniversary, Dave asked me what we should do to mark the occasion. My reply... "buy hiking shoes and start practicing for the big trip".
Little did I know that the "big trip" I was talking about was going to turn completely metaphorical.
While there has been much literal hiking in the past few years, the metaphorical hike has gotten much more press. Some would argue that the cancer / mental health journey we've been on is far more dramatic than some walk uphill in the woods. And most days, I won't disagree.
But what I'm coming to learn is that everybody is on a metaphorical hike.
I spent some time early on in my diagnosis, revealing in the "why me" attitude. Why me... a mom of 5 boys? Why me... a good Christian? Why me... a decent human? Why me... I'm sure I've got something more to offer this world and I'm not done living out my dreams yet and I'm so fantastic... how is this happening to me?
But why not me? For real! Why not me? My good-ness, my mother-ness, my Christian-ness, my fantastic-ness... none of that makes me any different from anyone else in this world, trekking their way through their own journey.
So many times in the past year I have heard, "I wish I could just take this from you and make you better".
My reply, "Well... that would be super great. But...you're not God." There is no human on earth who can heal me up that mountain, feed me healthy food up that mountain, grow me herbs and supplements... to get me up the mountain. There is no magic exercise program or chakra charm or ritualistic chant that will get me to the top of the mountain I am climbing.
And this is a hard spot for us human brains to be. Because, I think we genuinely want to care for each other. In fact, I think we're designed to deeply care for each other so we pray and we feed and we run and we chant and we do everything within our power to alleviate pain.
But we still aren't making it to the top of the mountain. The hike just seems to be wearing us out.
So what about this? What if I just carry my pack, heavy as it is, and you carry yours, heavy as it is and instead of you trying to take my pack from me so that my journey will be easier... and me taking yours to lighten your load...Instead of that, how about we just hold hands and hike together?
How about, we tie each others shoes when one of us can't bend over. How about we hold the log steady for one another when we need to cross a stream. How about we lean back into each other when we need to sit in the shade under a tree.
How about we hold each other so tight that we can make it to the top, even with our loads, and see the view.
Because I can't take on your pack. It will make me weak and sick. Yours added to mine is too much for me to bear. I can't find you a job. I can't heal your mom. I can't detox your child. Those things might be yours to bear. And they are heavy, as my load is heavy.
But you... you, are not too much for me to bear. You, beside me, holding my hand is not too much to bear. In fact, it's perfect. It's comfortable.
Holding hands while hiking is the best feeling ever. In real life. I love the safety and security of it. I love the casualness of reaching back for the person behind you to pull them over a tricky root. I love the look of pure joy when you are at the crest, the final push and a hand clasps your to share the view.
We can make it. We can climb out of anything when we are together. Hands clasped, hearts beating. And at the top, the pack can be removed, the weight lifted, the journey complete. And joy, pure joy abounds.