I’m standing at the very bottom of a deep and dark valley.
Deep. Dark. Vast. I feel tiny.
I know where I came from, the mountain I scaled to get here looms behind me, so far in the distance now, it's dwarved by time. The challenge it once presented isn't even a memory in my muscles anymore. They've rested and recovered, and forgotten.
Ahead of me lies all possibility: more mountains of varying shape and size, likely to change as I approach them. All of them too far and too high to afford me a clue as to what lies beyond each one, and which direction I should choose.
It’s like having 3 suitors waiting to take your hand for the rest of your life, but you know at least one of them could turn out to be a cheater, or a bad father, and you desperately want the one who would be neither. Yet they all play the part of the dark mysterious knight equally well, obscuring their future follies.
How do you choose? Close your eyes and spin the bottle? Try to calculate the direction likely to yield a city rather than an ocean, without compass or binoculars in hand? How do you choose which mountain to scale with no clues in sight?
So I surrender and slump to the ground, to rest my now weary head and heart, hoping for a ray of light to guide me.
That's it! The light! The shadows of the blades of grass tell me which way is north.
But I don't even know which direction I want to go in! How does North help me?
The size of the valley around me starts to consume me. How will I ever get out, without knowing which way to go?
I turn around and wonder why I descended that mountain. I try to recall what prompted me to do it. I retrace my steps and vaguely remember the magnificent view from above that made me determined to go on to the next mountain.
And then I realise: I didn't descend to head in a particular direction. I simply wanted to experience another mountain. And should the next one be as exciting, I would go on to the next.
It's enough to have me spring to my feet, and start walking to the mountain straight ahead of me.
It isn't what's beyond this mountain that I'm after. It's the burn in my muscles while climbing it that I crave.
I don't have a destination to get to. I simply want to keep climbing. When you get to the top, there's no climb left. So I went back down just to be able to go up again.
It's so simple, I laugh at myself for having forgotten.
I turn back at the valley and turn my chin up at it. I had underestimated its power. It had underestimated my resolve.
It almost had me. Almost.