I stand at the base of a mountain, staring. I crane my neck in an attempt to see a view of the peak; my only reward a faint glimpse of what might be the top of the looming, ominous mountain. My companion steps forward and puts his hand on my shoulder. "Ready?" he asks with an encouraging smile. I turn my gaze back to the mountain ahead, looking at the path. Thoughts stream through my ever active brain. The path is not well worn; covered with thorn bushes, pebbles, and rocks, narrow and steep. From the entrance alone I can see that there will be obstacles blocking the path, when there is a definable path, and the climb will be anything but easy. My heart and feet seem to have gained several pounds as I stand there just thinking about what lies ahead. In my mind I think that the last thing I want to do right now is climb this mountain. I dread the thought of the challenges and the intensity of the climb. I know as I gaze upon this path that I will not be able to complete it for I am far too weak and the climb is more than anything I can handle.
My friend, who has allowed time for thought, sees my face and reads the thoughts on my heart. He now addresses me again. "It's ok. I'll help you and we'll do it together. I'll encourage you, and pull you up when you don't have the strength. I'll even carry you if you ask. It will be the experience of a lifetime, and I would be honored if you will come with me." I look at him and allow this to roll around in my head a moment. I don't like the thought of him having to carry me, but I know he is more than capable. He, unlike me, is very much able to do this climb. He is strong, fit, and has climbed the mountain before. I know I have to do this climb, and if there is one person in the world that I want with me, it is him. "Alright," I say with a small smile at him, "let's go, I'm ready."
We began our ascent at a steady pace. True to its appearance, the path and mountain offered challenges I had foreseen as well as ones I hadn't. It has been difficult, as I had thought it would be. We have come across sharp, unforgiving rocks, been threatened by snakes, grasped and clawed our way up the faces of rocks, crossed small streams, and faced other hardships. Many times I have needed to be pulled up by my friend, and relied on his strength to help me overcome obstacles. Other times, pride caused me to reject the help offered and I have fallen as a result. He has even carried me at times when I was faint and could not press on. The path has taken us steeply up, levelly, as well as sharply downward.
However, it has not been all hardship and struggle. True to my companion's word, it has been the experience of a lifetime, dappled with moments of sheer joy so inexpressible and uncontainable, and highly enjoyable comradeship. Quite a spectrum of emotions have been visited and revisited as we've trekked onward, and not once have I regretted my decision to climb the mountain with my friend.
"Ready to get moving again?" my friend wakes me from my pause of retrospection. My eyes scan the scenery before us. They see new impediments, more foreboding than ones my friend and I have conquered before. It is a pattern I have noticed as we've gotten nearer our peak destination; the obstacles seem to get more challenging and the path less inviting. But it has caused dependance on my friend to become more of a necessity, and as a result I have grown much closer to him and I've come to trust his strength and ability more than when I first began this journey with him.
I turn to face him and he reads my thoughts. With a knowing smile he asks, "Would you like me to carry you for a while?"
With slight hesitation and a small amount of reluctance, I reply, "Yes, please."