Friday, February 09, 2007

The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill...

My legs are probably the most in shape part of my body, but they are also the ones that gripe the most.

They complain when I jog.

They moan in disbelief when I move past the car, choosing instead to walk the two blocks to the grocery store (“we’re in LA, nobody walks to the store!” they cry out).

They even whine when I get up from watching tv to go to bed. (“Hey, what’s wrong with the floor? Some of the greatest leaders in history slept on the floor.”)

So of course it was the legs that complained the most when I foolishly agreed to take a hike up the hill with my comrades.

First off, don’t agree to go on a hike with Elizabeth and Miguel. They don’t get what hikes are supposed to be about – they are supposed to be leisurely strolls until the ground starts arcing upwards. Then they are supposed to be about turning around and conferring on how far we are going to tell everyone we hiked.

But these two think that going to the top of a hill means going to the top of a hill. Who ever heard of such a thing?

And as we were in Eden, Utah, the hill was really a ridge on a mountain.

My legs started complaining fairly early on. They simple didn’t like the looks of this – they had been in situations like this before. They knew what was coming.

When we hit the picturesque cabin – a perfectly good stopping point – my companions merely paused long enough to look up. See that ridge? We can make that ridge.

And my legs started “I told you so”ing as my pride moved my mouth to say, “Sure, we can make that ridge.”

Making the ridge wasn’t as hard as other hikes I’ve been on. And I recounted those hikes to my legs as they started getting shaky further up the mount.

“Remember Hawaii?” Hawaii was bad, because Cath and I hiked farther than we should have, and had to choose between struggling back or offering ourselves as sacrifices to the volcano gods.

The volcano gods rejected us – something about wedding nights, Madonna, and Virgin Airlines. I didn’t quite understand, as I was mostly thinking about how this wasn’t nearly as bad as Mount St. Helens.

I did St. Helens before it erupted. The part near the top, where it is all ash? Yeah, that part I took one step at a time. Literally.

Step. Pause. Breath. Okay. Step. Pause. Breath. Okay. Step…

“See?” I told my legs in Eden. “We survived much worse – and there are no volcanoes in Utah, so how bad can it be?”

My legs grumbled, but knew that they weren’t nearly as influential as those two guys closer to the brain – pride and ego.

Elizabeth and Miguel could do it. And not only that, they were chit-chatting about marathons, and mountain runs, wrassling bears and crocodiles while winning triatholons. Those two were making it look easy.

Besides, said Pride, if you quit now, not only will you have to admit that you didn’t make it as far as the others, but these two are going to have to carry you back down. Is that worth avoiding a few aches in the morning?

So I kept on, until we reached the top – or at least as far as the brambles would let us go.

Not so bad. Spectacular view. The good feelings of pushing oneself past the limits. The soaring belief in the limitless potential of man.

The realization that I still had to get down.

“Not so bad,” says the brain. “The return trip is always easier.”

My brain is not so bright, as you all have figured out by now.

So my legs gripe, “Remember the return in Hawaii? Or Oregon? Why is control always given to the idiot in the head? Why not let the knees decide where we go next?”

And onward I go.

Just my thoughts,



janet said...

I like the way you hike, Sean. (And the way you write.)

Let's go hiking sometime. I know lots of paths that go right to the beginning of hills...

Gaffney said...

Hee hee hee...