To fully understand light, one must also comprehend the dark.
The road forks at the foot of the mountain. We bear left, past the covered bridge and up, up, up. In this season, the leaves have only just emerged. Red bud and dogwood bloom pink and white amongst the pale and varied greens of hardwoods and hemlock. The canopy, still sparse, allows the sunlight to reach the road, and a clear light surrounds us as we wind and climb, wind and climb. In the next season, this will change to a cool deep emerald filtered by the fullness of the leaves. In the season thereafter the light will change again, to a rich gold.
The morning fog has fully lifted. Far views of the next ridge, the next state reveal how high we have climbed. Still up we go, zigging this way and that. The road switches back as it climbs, into deep woods then out to vistas, woods, vistas, woods, vistas. Finally, the last curve is rounded, and the road flattens. We stop.
I have come to the top of the world in search of lightness. I have found it here before. My need now is dire. This already-cruel spring refuses to relent, and with each new blow, I feel heavier, physically and psychically. It presses on my brain; I lose track of what I am doing, and I end up mired by long stretches of just staring at nothing. Often, I feel as though I am standing only inches from an abyss; it is closer than I ever believed I could get.
Do not fear for me, gentle reader. I have lifelines. You are one. This blog, the time spent composing these posts -- even when I have no idea where to begin, the act of forcing myself to begin somewhere gives me moments of much-needed focus. I could not have known when I took Phil’s blogging challenge and committed to #52weeks that this would become so necessary for me. Back in February, I could never have predicted needing a lifeline, but it has worked out that way. I am grateful to Phil, for motivating me, and to Greg, my tireless editor, for sharing in this adventure too. If you are reading this, I am also grateful to you.
This place where I have come, the top of the world, is another lifeline. I cannot put my finger on what exactly, but something about Salt Pond Mountain lightens me. Situated on a continental divide, home to a naturally occurring, vanishing and reoccurring freshwater lake, I still sense the wholeness of the mountain and the permanence of its cycles. Some of the oldest hemlocks on the continent grow here. The unique biodiversity makes it an ideal living classroom and natural playground; the Appalachian Trail runs across a corner of the mountain. From Wind Rock you can see forever.
There are people of lightness here, too, in an old stone hotel that overlooks the meadow where the lake used to lap against a scenic gazebo, and where it will again someday. I have come to bask in them. They cannot fix my sweet kitty’s broken heart or mine, but the candle flame shared with a dark wick loses no light of its own. Should a way be found to reignite the metaphoric damp cotton thread that runs through me, I would appreciate the warmth.
Ultimately, the search for lightness falls to me. There is no place, no one who can illuminate me if I carry the darkness wherever I go. The simple, honest truth is I’m feeling sorry for myself, for the loved ones I have lost, for the precious things I know I will lose sooner rather than later. I feel picked on. It’s not fair. Then I hear in my father’s voice, “Life’s not fair. The best you can hope is that it is consistent.” I remind myself that it really is better to love and lose than never love. I remember to want what I have. I hold my best friend’s hand, and he assures me with his smile that, together, we will find the light.