I grew up on Long Island…born with the soul of the ocean. The water was my serenity, my breath, my home. Since I moved away 20 years ago, my soul had been aching. There was an emptiness inside, like the absence of family or the loss of a love. For 20 years, I searched…and then the day came, when I had come home again. No, not to my ocean…but an entirely brand new adventure that completed the missing piece, filled the emptiness within, and found my soul its own pair of shoes.
I stood there, speechless, gazing out at the landscape that had unfolded before me. I stood there, 4867 ft. above sea level, in awe of the endless beauty and wonder . My friend put her hand on my shoulder, as I turned to her with tears in my eyes. “It’s here. It’s here…” I barely whispered. “I found it…this is my soul.” The tears streamed down my cheeks, as I wiped them quickly away. There were other visitors there, many who were tourists, others who were hikers. But I couldn’t hear them. Everything fell silent. All I heard, in that moment, was my soul breathing in all of the majestic breezes, the breathtaking splendor, and the warmth that surrounded me.
I stood there, at the summit of Whiteface Mountain, in the middle of July and fell in love. A love I thought only existed by the ocean. And I knew, in that moment, I had finally come home.
I slowly closed my eyes and prayed. I prayed a prayer of thankfulness and gratitude. I prayed a prayer of love and peace. I’ve lived in New York my entire life…and it took me 40 years to see the Adirondack Mountains. It took me 40 years to stand on the summit of a mountain… 40 years! Thankfulness and gratitude for the splendor that nature provides us with every day, if we only quiet our minds and open our hearts to witness it.
Yes, the tears rolled down my cheeks once more, before my 13 year old daughter came up next to me. “Mom?” she said looking at the tears. “Look…look at this magnificence!” I answered her, stretching my arms out before us. (She was accustom to me getting choked up and teary-eyed at moments that took my breath away). I told her “this was it.” I was moving to the mountains! She laughed at me, but deep down, she knew I was serious. And she knew I was hooked for life. My soul…had been found. And once again, I felt free.
We didn’t hike the entire peak that day. (I would come back to climb it 6 months later.) We drove up the winding highway around and around the mountain until we were 200 feet from the summit. My children and I were on a trip with my friend and her family in Newcomb, staying near the Hudson River.
So we climbed the summit as a family; my youngest daughter being the most enthusiastic about the journey, with her writing journal in tote. My son…well, let’s say he was not as enamored by the view or the climb up the endless rocky steps to the summit. But I felt I had finally provided my children with what really matters in life: love, peace, appreciation and an opportunity to experience the beauty that life has to offer.
Less is more. In life, less is truly more. That Saturday in July sparked my love of the mountains…I was now a woman with an ocean and a mountain soul. It’s true what they say about both: Mountain breezes are just like ocean breezes. Peaceful, yet exhilarating. There is a transcending presence about both that surrounds you in its gigantic arms of calmness, yet leads you yearning to explore all its hidden treasures.
Still I rise…a mountain soul, that had finally found its pair of shoes. Run, dance, climb. Strong mind, strong heart, strong soul. Still I rise…and the journey to overcome continues.