I’ve seen it rainin’ fire in the sky
I know he’d be a poorer man if he never saw an eagle fly
Rocky mountain high”
I’d had this image of what Robert Frost meant when he wrote the poem. What I WANTED it to mean. He was a rebel. The one who went against the grain. Did his own thing. Fought the man. The establishment. Kicked convention to the curb. Parted ways with social norms and flipped them off on his way out. I wanted it to be this. And then I read the poem. I mean Id read it before many times. But yesterday I REALLY read it. Not from an angst teenager’s view or that of a young adult wanting to change the world. This time I read it from a 45 year old’s point of view. And its funny what you hear, what you see, what you learn……when you REALLY listen.
Its no secret Ive chosen to live my life a little unconventionally. I’ve been all about being different and unique and original and not following the crowd. Ive made a point to point out Im not conservative or religious in anyway because that is exactly what people expect when they see a blonde woman from Dallas. I’ve raised my kids to NEVER accept what is told to them as fact. To research and learn for themselves. To never follow a crowd. To blaze your own path and never stop fighting for what you believe in. And in my head Robert Frost’s poem embodied all of that. All of the bravery it takes to go down an unfamiliar path and buck the system. Until I REALLY read it again.
Saturday I went rock climbing with Dude and a few people I’d never met before. As usual I jumped in the car and said “lets go” with absolutely no clue where we were going. I rarely know where Im going anymore. I just go. It was a beautiful, familiar drive. The Aspen trees are stunning. The oranges and yellows and lime greens just pepper the mountain side and it looks like a painting. I love mountain driving in the Fall. Sometimes when we rock climb the walk from where we park the car to where we actually climb rocks is very short. Sometimes its far. And carrying a backpack full of supplies, water, ropes, etc….its not super easy climbing uphill with all that weight on your back at high altitudes. This was a trek. We had to walk pretty damn far from the car to the rock face. And it was all uphill. And rocky. And at places a little scary. But the hike started on a road before it ventured off into barely worn woods.
Climbing has become something very emotional for me. I don’t quite yet know why. But I cry every single time I do it. Maybe because its scary as shit. Maybe because its frustrating. Maybe because Im an old dog trying to learn new tricks. Maybe just because it symbolizes moving on. And it helps me purge. I don’t know. But I had a rough go of it the weekend before. And so these 2 climbs I did Saturday were awesome. Successful. I actually topped a 5.9. For those with no clue what that means….doesn’t matter…I climbed a step higher in difficulty than I ever had before. Pretty cool. The views were probably the best views Ive seen on any of the climbs Ive been on. Crazy amazing beautiful. Id make the hike in JUST for the views. Truly. The climbing is just icing.
So the walk out was better than the walk in. I felt accomplished. I felt proud. I felt happy. I don’t know if most 45 year old Moms are scaling the sides of mountains but they should be. And we navigated the brush and unmarked path down until we hit the main road. And one of the girls walking with us mentioned taking the road less traveled as we pushed through. I smiled and thought of that poem I love so much. It was an incredibly good drive home. I wont forget that drive. Ever. 😉
When I got home I pulled the poem up online to read. And something caught my attention. The title. My entire fucking life Id thought the title was “The Road Less Traveled”. Perhaps because thats what I wanted it to be. Its not, you know. Frost titled it “The Road Not Taken”. Its peppered with regret. Its peppered with the angst that he had to make a decision. That it wasn’t so easy to take the path he chose. He struggled with it. He even says in line 2 “And sorry I could not travel both”. He was sorry he had to choose. He was sorry he couldn’t have both lives, travel both paths. At the end of the poem he talks about leaving that other path for another day but knowing in his head that day would probably never come and he doubted he’d ever come back to travel the other path. I cried. Surprise. The poem was about the road he DIDN”T take.
I think when you make difficult choices in life people don’t see the pain that goes behind those decisions. When you live a big, bold, crazy, adventurous life out loud. When you’re happy. When you find the path you wanted and you get to be yourself finally. The world sees the happy. The world sees it and thinks how easy it must’ve been to choose the life you have. They don’t know you lamented for years. They don’t know you prayed and cried and didn’t sleep for months. They don’t know you made huge mistakes and have regrets and begged life to let you take both paths. You desperately tried to find a way to live both lives. To make everyone happy. To make it all ok. You fought to NOT be you so you wouldn’t ruffle feathers. You tried and struggled and hurt and decisions were never made lightly.
That road I chose. This road I chose. I walk it big and slowly and stop and smell every rose. Because there was another road. I could’ve chosen. It wasn’t a bad road. It wasn’t any LESS than the path I did choose. It just wasn’t MY road. It doesn’t mean I don’t wonder. I don’t feel sad. I don’t contemplate what might’ve been. Sometimes choices are simple. Sometimes hard. Sometimes painful. That Road Not Taken will always be there. It just wasn’t MY road. But it deserves the title. Because. Because it will always ALWAYS make me appreciate even more, the road I DID choose.
45 years. Almost half a century. Damn. I remember adults saying “time flies” when I was in my teens but it is so very true. TIME FLIES. I was 16 and got my license and had no wrinkles and no cellulite and I could see well and hear well and move fast. I could flip in circles, upside down, jump, and climb to the top of pyramids at cheer. I was 27 and carried a human being in my uterus. I gave birth. I nursed those babies. From my own body. I was 42 and climbed Pikes Peak. It hurt. It was hard. But I did it.
I’ve certainly acclimated to living at just under 8,000 feet. The altitude really never bothers me at all unless I try to run. And I don’t run. Ever. If I do…there’s a bear or a cop and things are about to get bad. Something happens to me, however, when I get to about 10,200 feet. Every single time. Its like that particular elevation is my breaking point. My lungs start to hurt a little and its hard to breathe and it feels like an elephant is standing on my chest and I gasp with urgency a bit. Slightly anxious I’ll not be able to breathe. And I can’t move as fast above 10,200 feet. So my breath is racing and my heart is going a million miles an hour but I physically can’t move as fast as I can below that altitude.
I feel like I have been living above 10,200 feet for many years now. Full of urgency and anxiety. Trying to move fast to keep up. And I just can’t. I just can’t.
11 years. Its a long time. I miss you. You’d think it would get better. They say time heals all wounds. I don’t know who “they” are but “they” are wrong. Some wounds split you wide open and you bleed for a long time and you put some stitches in it and a bandage over it and move on. But there’s always a scar. And your skin is never EVER the same as it was before. Accepting that I will NEVER be who I was before has been a long journey. Its hard to admit that your death affected every aspect of my life. The way I parent, the way I don’t trust, the way I hide, the way I run. The way I laugh, my marriage, where I live, how I look at life, my friendships, how I travel….everything….EVERY SINGLE THING.