Friday, September 21, 2012

Humility from the Top of the World

Friday I returned from the most wild travel adventure I’ve ever taken.  It’s emotionally difficult for me to classify the trip as “most amazing” or “most fun” out of reverence to my former life and the many travels Maggie and I shared, but I feel like it’s more of a tribute to me living beyond the life I had before, like I have broken out into a whole new world.  And that’s fact.  The daily experiences I experienced exceeded my wildest expectations and, likewise, reset my gauge for what I should expect, or rather, insist that the rest of my days be like.  A whole new world was opened up to me and open eyes can’t un-see what’s been seen.  This is the start of something wonderful.

Sitting atop the peak of Huayna Picchu, I thought of Maggie and how she’d have loved to be sitting right beside me.  Then I realized she was there all along, coaxing me along.  The wonder in my eyes as I gazed down on the valleys thousands of feet below me was a reflection of how she would have seen the same. The majestic peaks staggered mountain after mountain humbled me and helped me understand that what has happened to her and me has happened for ages. And yet, life continues.  I am but a simple man, broken-hearted, but not broken.  For I climbed every single step of Huayna Picchu, pausing for breath when I needed to, but I did it, all the way to the top and then back down again.  I never gave up.  I lived to see the indescribable 360-degree peak.  Eventually, I made it down safely – tired, sweaty, hungry and beat down.

My visit to Huayna Picchu has humbled me.

Now, I feel like I’m climbing back down my own personal mountain.  I feel like I’ve beaten the climb and the altitude.  The views are still dizzying and the stairs can be slippery, but all I need to do is stay focused.  But the path is smoother and the threat of falls less ominous.  I’ll trudge on.  I’ve already made it up.  Now, I suppose like it’s always been, it’s one foot in front of the other.  But the footsteps are getting easier.


  1. I love your visual references. Your writing inspires me to look at the world around me in a different way. For the past two years I've been trying to fit back into my "before" life. That quest has stopped me from climbing out of the valley and up to the peak. I've only now begun to understand that my life as it was before my husband's death doesn't exist anymore. That's why I am so uncomfortable wandering around in the valley.
    Reading your entry this morning may just be the insight I need to begin the climb out, one step at a time.
    Thank you!

  2. Beautiful post! Very inspiring to the weary.

  3. ..."what has happened to her and me has happened for ages".

    That is truly what we need to remember every day, it has happened before and will happen again, that is a part of life and living and loving. Thank you, Chris, I hope your path continues to be smoother, step by step.

  4. Great analogy - so true! Thank you for the inspiration.

  5. I hope someday I'll sit atop that mountain and be able to see the beautiful view, instead of only being aware of the cold wind blowing through the space where my husband used to be

    1. Well put. I spent a long time being only aware of that tremendous, empty space where Maggie used to be, like you describe. It's an interesting place where I'm at now. I'm still very much aware of that empty space, but it's not the first thing that gets my attention any more. I can see beyond it to a world that I hadn't really noticed in a long, long time.

  6. My late husband was a photographer by trade and a wanderer by choice. Travel is one of the ways that I continue to honor him. I take his camera along and have yet to make a trip where some astounding image has not emerged. At first his absence was unbearable but now I feel him with me in those places more than I feel the void. In a way, he meets me there.