Imagine there are two journeys. The first involves a short, exciting ascension, followed by a slow-motion plunge. You are initially thrilled by the view at the top, but you quickly lose your footing. You don’t fall tidily, like a diver cutting a clean line into a pool. You’re a plane crash; debris everywhere. Maybe you come up short, bleeding and full of regret, then continue your plummet because surprise! That wasn’t the bottom. If you’re lucky, you eventually land in a heap, broken but breathing.
The second journey begins with a sort of blind scrabbling in the dirt: where am I, who am I, what happened? You pick up your feet and begin trudging along, unsure of what direction to head in. The terrain is both alien and all too familiar, you keep coming across your wreckage. Like corpses on Everest, it isn’t safe to take these things with you. They can only be accepted and acknowledged and laid to rest. (You pick them up anyway, over and over, and carry them until their weight brings you to your knees.) Your legs get stronger, but the edge of the path is always uncomfortably close. A steep drop leads to a place you never want to see. Eventually you realize that everything you thought was so dazzling before was only a mirage. Still, there is a part of you that is like a man in the desert dying of thirst, always reaching for the shimmer. You do your best to drink from other sources, and keep going, one step at a time.