When I could go no higher, I pressed myself into the land. The summit was in front of me, and as my oxygen-deprived brain squealed against a step further, the final lip of this monstrous mountain rose up before my eyes. It was as tall as my hands could reach, and I collapsed, head to toe, into cold rock. Every inch of me hugged the peak as I edged, slithered, pressed forward and up. My drunk and dizzy brain had told me what to do, and what to do was to hug the land. I felt no strength. Eyes closed. Focus on breathing. Do not sleep. I knew nothing but the pull on my body: deeper into the cold granite, up toward the summit. I swore it was coming from the rock, but now looking back, I know it came from me.
The mountain was my scapegoat. Finally, in releasing responsibility to the rock, I found the summit. With the mountain as my ally, we pulled forward to the highest altitude I would reach. That day. Ever. Upon it I did not stand, did not marvel at the glorious view this peak offered the few travelers that made it so high. I didn’t want to stand above the summit. I wanted to tell the mountain thank you. I wanted to lie, spread eagle, absorbing this rock that once had pushed up out of the earth the same way I had today, and this moment when I knew where I stood.
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