Today we took to forest trails winding up through Acadia National Park, under tall evergreens and winding birch, the floor beneath our feet carpeted in fragrant pine.
Every hike, I muse on whether the ascent is harder or the descent. And so today we discussed it.
“Always harder going down,” Dan said. He gave examples: your grade point average can drop with one bad grade but raising it up takes semester upon semester of A’s. You can lose a job, an income, a pinnacle in a flash.
Yes, but, it’s not how easy it is to go down, I said. It’s how challenging it is to adjust to.
We expect the climb to be harder, the ascent to be more strenuous. We know our hearts will pound in our ears. We know we’ll breathe heavy and our heartbeats will quicken. We are prepared for the climb.
But the retreat, we expect it to be easy. We forget how our muscles work hard to cushion the descent so we don’t tumble out of control.
And then, there is the adjustment. I recounted how I started with a 13×13 dorm room and filled it with clothing and a hot pink beanbag and small items. When I moved into an apartment three times as big, it seemed luxurious.
Until I filled it easily.
The next apartment was bigger, and my first house too. My first house, at 1,400 square feet, was such an achievement! A cute bungalow with a funky loft space where I wrote late into the night and early with the sunrise.
Today, that house so long ago seems tiny in my memory. How could I raise my family of six in such a small space? Especially when I’ve gotten used to much, much bigger, and filled it with stuff.
The going down, then, isn’t literally hard; it’s metaphorically hard. We anticipate and yearn for and dream about the going-up; the coming-down we hide, we don’t tell anyone, we manufacture stories that sound better than the truth.
On hikes, it always surprised me how challenging the descent is.
We wound our way up to the south face of Bubble Rock, and the rain started to spit after a few minutes looking out at glorious views. Even on overcast days, the view is spectacular. The world around us is always gorgeous; we choose to see it or we don’t.
By the time we returned to the car, the rain was full-on earnest, so we drove along the mountain roads to Jordan Pond House for a cup of tea. Except they weren’t open for service yet, so we improvised yet again.
It was on to Thurston’s Lobster Pound for lunch overlooking low tide and quiet boats. And then meandering down to the lighthouse and a brief ponderous seat on flat rock overlooking many islands in the distance.
In low tide, a small land outcropping was visible. When the tide comes in, we won’t be able to see that, Dan said.
We found the used book store on the outskirts of Bar Harbor and bought a few books for $20 and then wound our way through the rain back into town for iced coffee and a whoopie pie and an hour of reading a book I just can’t put down.
Wednesday marked three years married. Even a second marriage can last a lifetime.
We are in a part of the world we’ve never been before, set to discover anything, together, and check another item off the bucket list. Together, the world opens up.
This morning, I pointed out how Dan is so patient that he can do anything. Whatever is required. Me, I just give up, impatient and frustrated.
That’s why we’re good together, he said. You married me so I can fix your computer.
Yes, I nodded. That’s absolutely right.