I trample along a beaten path, the treacherous rocks, those jagged cliffs.
An eagle soars by, its call high pitched and piercing.
They all know, the predator searching, waiting for them, scanning the landscape looking for prey.
Patient is the eagle, but it is hungry. Mouths to feed other than its own. It does not know. It steadfastly swoops down into the valley, loyal, directed in its purpose. Into the shadow, that valley, dark and cold. Out of sight out of mind.
Continue along that beaten path. I stagger, the harsh wind blows on a tired body. Wind whistling in my ear, a localised howl. This path, it’s been walked many times before. Maybe not by you, I say out loud. It is well worn. Steps in the steeps, marked by the boots and feet of those who have come before me. Indents pressed into the soft brown loam, slick from the morning’s mist. Many have faltered here, at that steep incline. The rotten corpses and eroded skeletons litter the valley below. I imagine they had not the will nor the strength to battle this beaten path. The thought gives me strength. I am here, I am still here. Up this monumental mountain. The peak in the distance, here, high above the clouds. The air gets thin, saps the energy from the most confident traveller. I take one more step. Legs sore, intense pain, aching muscles, a battered body, mind unwavering. Mind over matter I say to myself as if it gives me solace from the pain. My body is begging relentlessly for rest. Not far to go now. Or so it seems.
The path is less worn here, little sign of footsteps, high above the clouds. Shrubs increasingly scattered, the wind still blowing in my ear. A localised howl. Ice forms in the loam. Soft loam, hard ice. The soft surface collapses under my exhausted gait while the firm ice crunches. The peak in the distance, still in the distance. No path here, no longer a beaten path. Those who’ve come before, their tracks lost to the elements and time. Make your own path. It is your path. Each step takes longer to make, the air thinner, body battered from the journey. Legs burning, muscles aching, but the mind stays strong. It is in the distance, still in the distance. I imagine basking in the warmth of golden light hitting my skin. Above the clouds.
It is in the distance, still in the distance. Peak or illusion? It doesn’t matter. I didn’t think I’d get this far. But I am here, I am still here.