The Twee Goals of Brian J.

You know, gentle reader, every year I set a couple of goals for myself. Not resolutions, and not a little thing, but not a major thing (conquer the world is a centennial goal, not an annual goal). And sometimes I get a notion into my head that’s like a little goal, and two weeks ago in Michigan, I got an idea in my head kind of reminded me of my goals.

So we stayed at a resort that’s a seasonal ski resort (which meant it was very affordable in the summer). Our unit looked out onto the snow tube run, which meant we looked across the end of the run and some of the seasonal equipment, which provided a vista for my reading when I read all those books whose reports you’ve just read (or will read when you scroll down). From the edge of our balcony, though, we could look up Boyne Mountain (something that we can kind of scoff at even here in the lower part of the Ozark Mountains). But the hill behind us and the mountain itself with its ski runs rises something like 450 feet in the course of a football field. And I got it into my head that I wanted to walk up the hill.

I mean, I saw a bunch of people out for walks on the pavement, and a couple cutting across the fields to get up to the amenities across the road, but I didn’t see any hikers going up. I didn’t see any hiking trails listed in the amenities of the resort, but they did have a ski lift running to take you to the scenic lookout for a small fee.

The rest of the family planned a day at the waterpark, which left me free to pursue my stated goal instead of reading for the whole day. Of course, then the self-doubt and worry creeped in. Michigan up there is fairly forested. Might I run into a bear going up the hill? It’s cleared well to either side, but, man, would I feel dumb if I encountered a couple cubs halfway up and had to fight off the mother with a pocket knife. We didn’t cover that in tae kwon do classes, even the weapons classes. Also, I’m not twenty any more. Or thirty. Or, heaven forfend, forty. I’ve walked up some hills in my time, but this was nominally a mountain. At least it was on the brochures.

But I mentioned doing it, and as the morning evolved, the rest of the familiy did not dart out to the water park immediately, and when I asked if the boys wanted to accompany me to the top of the hill, the younger of my boys, the one most unflappable and with no sense of self-preservation or danger at all, said he’d go with me. So I was on the Daddy hook. No, he never called me Daddy–he always called me Father when he was young, but now I’m Dad, which is better than Fat. But now I couldn’t back out, even less than when I announced my intention.

So up we went.

The slope was, what, 45 degrees? Something like that. I was afraid of slipping and falling.

I mean, I haven’t done any hiking for reals, and certainly not in tennis shoes, since I was a kid. But I had my son along, and I had to show no fear of falling. Maybe a little concern about my age and having a heart attack (although a properly falling during a heart attack might have carried me down the hill to help). So I started up, watching my feet all the way up. I resolved not to look down or back as I climbed. Brothers and sisters, I could have saved Eurydice. Well, except for the music part, unless I bored Cereberus to sleep with my guitar practice like I bore my instructors.

I was a bit dismayed at my heavy breathing, which I tried to disguise in conversation with my son through clever ventriloquist tricks, but I noticed he was panting, too, and I felt better.

And then we were up the hill. The hilltop held a couple of buildings hidden from the lower view, but no real place to sit to share the water I’d brought. Don’t get me wrong–it wasn’t an hour’s hike. It was twenty minutes or so. But more incline than I’m used to in my super sprint triathlons (well, the one).

So we shared a bottle of water and took a picture.

At the summit, as it were, I didn’t enjoy the view that much or feel a sense of accomplishment, really, because I knew we had to go back down.

We climbed up the left side of the above picture, which is more steadily steep with a bit of a valley in the middle (for water run off, perhaps). On the way down, we came on the lit tubing side, which has some level spots. Of course, since I’ve never been snowtubing, I didn’t realize the level spots were ramps for jumps or bounces, and that the level spots were followed by sharper drops for those snowtubing thrills. Still, I did better than Wesley on the way down, still watching my feet. My older son had come out, a dot on the green below us, to take our picture, but he didn’t recognize the two specks as his kin, so I’m afraid there’s no picture from that angle. When we got about half way down the hill, the youngest started to run to his older brother, and he made it alive. But his cautious father continued a plodding pace until I reached terra level.

“So what does that have to do with your goals, Brian J.?”, you might ask. Even if you don’t, I’ve given it some thought, and here it is: It illustrates how I relate to my goals and my accomplishments.

It seemed daunting at the run up to the doing, and at the outset, but basically I put one foot in front of the other, and I–well, we–climbed the hill. When I was atop the hill, I didn’t really enjoy the view because I was thinking of what was next (in this case, the climb down, which was just as treacherous–which is to say, “Not Very”–as the climb up). And once I’d done it, it was not a big deal, and I’m not really going to bring it up lest I seem boastful.

Well, except with you, gentle reader. If you’ve been following along, you know I’ve done some things and met some goals, but having done them, of course I’ve done them. I get them done by carrying on, and I don’t necessarily enjoy the doing on the way to the accomplishment. Then I don’t get much enjoyment out of having done them. What a poor frame of mind.

Clearly, I’m more of a Camus Existentialist than a Neitzsche Übermensch. Which is also probably clear by all the Buddhism, Taoism, and Stoicism I read. Much of which I read because I keep trying to change my attitude for the better. Hopefully, I can plod my way to peace of mind eventually.

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