Monday, January 7, 2008

Jumping the Abyss

Its Funny How life brings you along a trail of experience; it could be related as a trail like this: trial as an increase in trail grade, a rocky path, a muddy one, and the comparison could go on. It seems my life started as a gentle stroll through the grassy glades of the low lying valleys and gently increased in terrain features, such as rolling hills, wet shoes from grass dew, and thorny thickets that so often bring tears to a young ones eyes.
On through adolescents the trail abruptly becomes a literal hike, leaving childish fears and games in the valley behind and below. This section of the journey is full of rocky paths, switch backs, fallen trees, and cold driving rains. I believe that this part of the journey can discourage and dishearten for it pulls one out of the warm memories of soft turf and soft living of childhood. This harder trail does not always make one cry and despair, many a time it brings out courage and a sense of adventure which so often separates youth in attitude. This harder trail is not a constant one; in fact the only consistency about it is its increase in difficulty, the number of mosquitoes, the hot muggy air, the cold and additional obstacles.
I may be coming across as if life was a constant test of will power and mans ability to endure pain, not so for among these sore blisters and teary eyes comes sunny warm mountain meadows, places to rest weary feet, rejuvenating mountain springs that sooth and cool our dry throats, and the most gratifying mountain views that help bring perspective and joy to our accomplishments. After adolescents comes a period of adventure, risk, and personal growth. It seems that the rock face that demands technical climbing had always been in view of those traveling along this symbolic trail. It was even seen from the valley now far below, and even talked about by “Mentors” and “Trail Rangers” as being a most formidable obstacle that’s must be scaled if one desires to proceed to greater heights. This rock face can be compared to many things; Missions, Military service, first years and experience with higher learning. Its leaving the tree line, its hanging from a cliff face by strength in grip you weren’t previously aware of, its feeling that shortness of breath because of the altitude and knowing inside that you’re able, knowing that you’ve always been able, but the difference is that now you’re on your own.
It’s exhilaratingly wonderful, your breath pulled away by the view. You sit down a moment to take it all in, you feel peace, happiness, and unrest, for you know more mountain looms above, and there’s something very different that sets this part from the rest. I imagine and that’s all I can do is imagine because on my own trail I still scramble over the obstacles my rock face, that it’s something like a snow field or even a glacier. Colder then one can bare alone, and yet scorching in the glare of sun off the white reflective snow. I’m told going alone on this route is dangerous, and that one often finds a climbing buddy to rope up too for safety and friendly encouragement. There are more obstacles then just the elements to worry about up there; there are crevices, treacherous ice bridges, avalanches that can all but destroy a man. Hearing of all these dangers makes one think twice about leaving the tree line, and only wisdom and maybe pure intuition can dictate when it’s right for the adventurer to precede upward.
I do not Venture to write more for I do not believe I have yet reached these glacial heights of responsibility and consistency of habit.
In closing I’ll relate a personal experience: Just yesterday (Jan. 2nd 2008) I attended the funeral service for my Grandfather, William Burton, more commonly known as Grandpa Bill or Bill Burton. It was a Beautiful service, it reflected his life wonderfully. Listening to the accounts of those that survived Him helped me remember how much He loved the Mountains, a love I believe he passed on too all that knew him, whether through long hikes, waiting for hours for the perfect sunset, or just for those that saw his living room wall covered with his many paintings of nature.
In final example I say Grandpa Bill reached that lone summit to only feel the eternal frustration all climbers experience on a lone summit, it’s a feeling of wanting more, wanting to Jump the Abyss and touch the untouchable, yes even heaven. Grandpa Bill has done this, He’s touched the untouchable
He’s Jumped the Abyss.

January 3rd 2008
By David W. Burton, Grandson.


Anjuli Fry said...

Thanks David again for this!!

Harmony said...

Beautiful thoughts David, even if I'm reading them almost two years later.

Grant said...

hi david, I appreciate your comment too. I know your point of view. I don't want to make what my dad went through seems less. But I'm not sure that he was alone in his last minutes. Nor am I sure that he was on a summit compare with the rest of his life. I am still in amazement of the strenghth that he extending to get where he was.