You are climbing.
And there comes a point wherein you begin to wonder: Will I ever see anything that tells me I’ve reached An Apex—if not The Apex? Will there ever be a sign? Will the vista be enough?
You keep climbing, yet you harbor this doubt in your heart.
Then, suddenly, there is no more stone shielding your eyes. The mountain face falls away. Pink clouds greet you in the belly of a pale blue sky.
And all you can summon is,
This is it? This can’t be it.
You were climbing. And now you are not climbing. How foreign it feels to you.
What to do?
You can choose to sit or stand, and to stare and linger, because the view is, admittedly, beautiful. Even if it is not the Utmost of anything.
Or, you can choose to keep going. To return to that constant sense of Up that you know so well. To, as the song puts it, see what you can see. Because maybe there is an Utmost and maybe it feels more potent and powerful than this.
Letting the crisp thin air filter through you, you decide, yes, that must be the answer.
You begin your journey once more.
Or so you think. Because as you turn to depart, to descend,
The light catches your eye in a way subtle and strange.
It is for a half of a second; no longer. But something about the colors that strike you then—
It sends you reeling.
It reminds you of a summer, years ago, where all you did was walk by the riverside and watch sunsets and read. Sometimes you painted. Sometimes you swam.
Mostly you did not, though. Mostly you embraced this—what would you call it?
How could you have been capable of that, though? It feels so near
So far away.
But that flash of Then, that memory, is yours. No doubt about that.
Once upon a time—once there was no Apex. It didn’t matter.
I wonder, are the words that cross your mind now. I wonder. Could it not-matter again. When did it even begin to.
There was a story that was told. Wasn’t there?
A myth. It should have been called what it was. Mythology. Fantasy. Fiction.
But it’s not too late. Right? You step back to where you were before, and you sit. You breathe. You watch the light move through the clouds, like a gentle waterfall. You remember.
You remember that there was someone who you loved before all of this began. That there were grounded dreams you had, dreams with shape and texture and definition, absolved of the Utmost. That there was a world beyond this mountain range, a world you wanted to see and explore.
It could be, the volleying cries of the birds seem to say. It could be again.
It is nearly time to descend; you know because the light is shifting in the direction known as Late Afternoon.
But, you think, let’s give it a minute longer. Let’s linger here. Let’s remember what that really means.
written for Anthony Bourdain – having heroes isn’t always the best idea, but he was a good one to have around anyway