There is a poignant moment that captures a common experience of pilgrimage--both an actual and metaphorical--of life:
The worst thing about the mountain was not the stinging cold or the steep climb in the thinning oxygen and on the patches of dense ice. Those things were physical; they were real. One can come to terms with the real and compensate.
No, the worst thing about that frozen beast was its false horizons. There is nothing as cruel as false hope, and this mountain handed it out in liberal dosages. Every 10 minutes it seemed as if the summit was only minutes away. The path ahead would crown, and there seemed to be nothing beyond it but blue sky. In my brain, I knew it was not the end, but my heart could not be reasoned with. Again and again, I cast my eyes down in order to move on.Brown and gray tundra abounded, and a bleak feeling overtook me like the cold daylight washing over the mountains. As I reached the point I could not continue, we arrived at a teahouse.
I know that moment, that feeling, of "are we there yet?"
And yet the place where we are going to is just around the corner, around the bend int he road, over the horizon, almost there...and I am always glad when I reach the finish line, the tea house, the hostel, the hotel, the pub, with a deeper "AHHH!" and a lowering of the body into a chair, a stool, a bed, a sofa, a cushion.
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