First off, an important PSA. This week is Washington State Volcano Awareness week, part of Volcano Preparedness Month. I hope you are all prepared. I meant this to be silly and sarcastic, but that’s a real thing, like. The danger posed by volcanoes in Washington is fairly low in probability but high in cost. Mt St Helens was kind of a big deal. And there are just a lot of volcanoes in Washington. So I sincerely hope you’re prepared, even if you’re unlikely to need such preparedness. When it comes to pyroclastic flows and unstoppable lahars, better safe than sorry is an understatement. So make like a Boyscout and be prepared.
Also, to take advantage of the lovely weather we’ve been having, I went with some church friends to walk the beach between Malahide and Portmarnock (a couple towns just outside Dublin on the DART) on Sunday. It was an enjoyable afternoon, and the beach really is pleasant. But I’ve got to tell you, I think wind is the great ruiner of all Irish nice days. If it hadn’t been windy, I might have actually been too hot (probably not too, but definitely hot). Instead, I was chilly and just sort of unreasoningly discontent. But it was a nice trip nonetheless.
Not sure if I’ve said this already or not, but here’s your little Ireland tidbit for the day. Trinity, as you know, is a very self-important institution. I’m not sure if other universities in Ireland do this too, but I find it most humorous at Trinity. In this case, it’s not anything actually pretentious, I just find it so because I’m an American. Anyway. The four years at Trinity are named as follows: junior freshman, senior freshman, junior sophister, senior sophister. I don’t know about you, but I just find those names really silly. It’s bad enough to spend a year as a sophomore, but two years as a sophister? I can only imagine the sophistry they get up to.
So mountains. In this season of college graduations and the like, the long-treasured Oh, the Places You’ll Go by the immortal Dr. Seuss has been on my mind. It’s a great book, I give it my utmost, highest recommendation. But there’s one line that, in conjunction with other things in my life and mind, I’ve come to have a different understanding of recently. Right near the end, the speaker addresses us by saying, “And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.) KID, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!” While the book in general offers a pretty comprehensive picture of the ups and downs of life, I’ve just been struck. Ninety-eight and three-quarters percent. It feels a little bit like I’m living in the 1.25%. It feels a little bit like these mountains aren’t going anywhere.
That’s the thing, though. It’s such a tremendous metaphor. Sometimes, we’re on top of the world. Just like the picture on that page, we stick mountains on a wacky, wheeled contraption and haul them away. And when they’re gone, we walk gladly into a lush, green valley brimming with all manner of good things. Other times, perhaps we can dig a tunnel and bore straight through. Or perhaps we simply walk around them. And, of course, viewing mountains from a distance (especially after you’ve passed them, one way or another–or they’re someone else’s mountains) offers a very different perspective than when all you see is cold stone inches from your face. Sometimes, the only way forward is up. Up sheer cliffs of unfeeling rock, whose summit greets you with howling wind and boundless, blinding-white icefields. And sometimes a peak doesn’t gift you with a view of how far you’ve come but instead confronts you with a higher, fiercer range that you couldn’t even see before. Sometimes, when you’ve reached that point, you don’t have to make mountains out of molehills because, for all the strength you’ve left, they may as well be.
In those moments, I don’t feel very brainy or footsy. As the good doctor points out, “Unslumping yourself is not easily done.” And it’s in those times, I guess, when we’re most in need of things outside ourselves. Friends and family, to be sure, but also the One in whom no trust is ever misplaced. And when I’m confronted with stationary mountains, icy and isolating, trusting is about all I can do. I’m pretty lousy at it, but I’m learning. And trying. And offering as much of myself as I can.
- Vivir Mi Vida – Marc Anthony
- Can’t Fight This Feeling – REO Speedwagon
- Oh My Stars – Andrew Belle
- Bleeding Love – Leona Lewis
- I’m Alright – Madeleine Peyroux
- Starfish and Coffee – Prince
- Everybody Here is a Cloud – Cloud Cult
- Ocean Drive – Duke Dumont
- Say Something – A Great Big World & Christina Aguilera
- Trust in You – Lauren Daigle