Before my family moved away from Ecuador, my boys wanted to climb Mt. Pichincha. It’s not the tallest mountain in Ecuador and not a hard mountain to climb. It’s more like taking a hike at 15,000 feet.
But this was the mountain we had lived under and climbed countless times for years. It was the volcano that had rained ash down on us. It was our mountain.
We started off early and we’re having a good time, hiking, talking, and taking pictures. We reached the top of a long sandy slope and sat down to take a break, drink some water, and eat a bit before we pushed on to the final stretch.
I sat on a rock, opened the backpack, handed out snacks and drank in the view. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught the sight of my backpack slowly rolling away. By the time I reached to grab it, it had already achieved terminal velocity. It was tumbling, bouncing gleefully away, like a happy little kid rolling down a hill.
I wasn’t gleeful. I was sick. My wife’s good camera was in that bag.
All I could do was beg it to stop. Plead with it to stay away from rocks. And watch it roll… and roll. I had no control.
When it finally came to rest up against a bolder, way down the mountain, the three of us just stood there looking at it. I didn’t know what to do. We couldn’t just leave it and pick it up later, someone else might get there first. There was nothing left to do, but hike back down and get it.
Life has a way of tumbling out of control. There are moments, seasons of chaos where no matter how hard we try to reach to grab it back all control tumbles away and there’s nothing we can do but watch.
Your job is gone. Your spouse is cheating on you. A parent dies. It’s cancer.
Nothing is more frightening than being out of control. In those moments we can get stuck, staring blankly down the mountain wondering what the heck to do. We wish it would stop. We wish things were different. We wish we were sitting back on our rock.
But that moment is gone and it’s not coming back. At some point, we have to accept the new reality. We need to mourn the loss, identify the things we can control, then start walking back down the mountain.
When we got to the backpack, the camera was fine. We finished the climb and had a great day. Sometimes where we land isn’t as desperate as the fall appears it will be. Sometimes it is.
Either way, how we address it is the same.
Call it what it is. It’s ok to just say how much it sucks. It’s ok to express, “this is where I am now”. We can learn to live in the new reality. Our system will adjust. It takes time.
It’s ok to ask for help. We’ll walk down the slope together and then…on to the summit. We’ll still get there. The path just looks different than what we expected.