Last time I had them checked, my lungs were 82 years old. I see a pulmonologist and one of their favorite things is to have you blow into a machine to test your lung function. Take a deep breath and then blow out hard. Really hard. And keep blowing until you think you are going to pass out. Repeat three times. Definitely not a favorite test of mine.
On the outside, I look completely normal, though. At least I think I do. But the truth is, I can get winded from a flight of stairs. The other truth is I like to be active. I want to go out there and capture the world, see everything there is to see and do it all too. Two weeks ago I was in the most beautiful place I have ever visited, a small Greek island surrounded by the amazingly blue Aegean sea. The beauty would take your breath away.
I went on a couple of small hikes. They were so small other people just called them walks. But I also decided not to do an island tour because it included three hundred steps to a monastery nestled into the mountainside. I was sad to be one of the only two to stay behind (the other person was going diving) but I made the best of it by wandering the town to shop for a couple of hours.
The mountains on the Greek island of Amorgos are gray and seemingly lifeless although they are peppered with goats that contribute to the gorgeous feta cheese that is prevalent in many of the local dishes. Along the seaside path we walked (hiked), brambles and spiky grass pecked at our ankles. The sea and the whitewashed town across the way were the stars of the show but it made me long for the Adirondack mountains I grew up around.
It took about a week to right my jetlagged schedule and I woke up yesterday longing to get back to nature, an Adirondack hike with my son in tow. I scoured the internet for something simple and easy but those don’t yield the best of views. I found a six-mile (roundtrip) hike at the foot of Lake George that promised stunning views and we were in the car as soon as I could shake the twelve-year-old awake. How hard could it be?
Everything I read promised we’d be at the top in an hour and a half but by hour three, every turn toward the top only gave way to steeper terrain and rocks to be scaled. I wanted to give up. This was the worst idea I have ever had in the history of ideas. But my son was there by my side with steady encouragement: “you’ve got this, mom.” How could I let him down? I may have stopped 50 times on the way up. I may have cursed myself under my breath 100 times. I may have considered giving up 200 times. But we kept on.
You often hear how life is about the journey. Just for one day, it was about the destination.
What hard things have you done lately?
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