I Will Never ForgetAs I neared the end of the arduous path, each trembling, burning step produced a larger image of an ice-blue lake. I finally placed both aching blistered feet at what previously seemed a fictitious destination: the summit! As I began to devour the breath-taking beauty that was the reward for all of the sweat and the flecks of knee and palm I had given to the mountain during the prior two days, I discovered something that I did not expect. The mountain; she was speaking to me. Her whisper came to me as a soft touch to my heart, to my soul.
As I closed my eyes, inhaling deeply in an attempt to quiet my pounding heart, she stole away my breath, mingling it with her own; then, we exhaled with complete synergy. Together, the mountain and I drew the clear, fresh, thin air, in a passionate rhythm. I felt my cold, dry lips begin to tingle slightly and a sensation only describable as pleasantly near ecstasy enveloped me.
A drop of sweat fell from my sun-scorched brow and I opened my eyes to the blinding snow. The realization of my ascent, of my accomplishment hit me and I stood trembling unable to move my weakened, bruised limbs. I smiled a dry mouth smile and felt the internal cartwheels of pride begin to dance within my being. My eyes scanned the scenery surrounding me. The trees below were so many shades of green it was impossible for me to describe with words alone the impeccable beauty that my eyes beheld. The ephemeral clouds cried sweetly into the mountain, giving freely their sole possession. The mountain beckoned to me through the lake frozen so cold it threatened to steal my soul if I got too close, but I could not resist her call. My feet and legs carried me closer to the frozen water’s edge. There, she told me that I must never forget. I must always carry the breath and the voice of the mountain with me, for it is she who breathes pure water into our lakes. It is she who provides shade for our valleys. It is she who gives soil to our forests. It is she who gives substance to our very homes.
I heard the mountain tell me that I must find the energy to reach an arm and a hand to the snow at my feet. She said I must taste it to ease the dreadful burning thirst that was silently screaming from my mouth, fighting against her for my attention. I struggled to comply and heard my own savage protest as I picked up the cold white wetness. I pressed the pure snow to my lips, suckling the sweet moisture from the delicate crystals. Suggestive of a gift from the mountain, my energy increased, I felt refreshed, renewed, and my burning thirst had been silenced.
I thanked the mountain and turned away from the ice-blue lake, looking again to the entrancing panoramic view that my heart struggled to comprehend. I took my bruised body back to the edge where I first glimpsed the ice-blue lake and heard the mountain whisper to me. I realized the bruises did not matter any longer; the cuts were insignificant. The exhaustion had been exhaled and replaced with exhilaration.
I stepped from the snowy edge back on the path toward the rocks; to go on to the dust, and the trees, back to the flowing lakes, to descend to civilization. I carried away with me a voice that was not my own; the voice was that of the mountain. I began to realize that as she had spoken to me through her beauty, she had created in me physical and emotional symptoms that have altered my mentality, my understanding; she had changed my perception and I was indebted to her for her generous gift. I promised her, I will never forget.