Spin the Globe with Justin Butner

A world citizen may provide value to society by using knowledge acquired across cultural contexts.

The Hard Part is Coming Down

Wed June 30, 2010

Ask any addict and they’ll tell you that the hardest part is always coming down. It is why coffee fiends get headaches until they can find their next cup. It is why alcoholics have hangovers and seek the hair of the dog. It is why people on cocaine spend their entire time high looking for more cocaine. It is why speedballs were invented – cure coming down off heroin with cocaine. And smokers trying to quit are sold a product that advertises that it makes quitting suck less.

The same holds true for the second half of a mountain hike. Going up, no matter how hard on your legs, is rewarding. You are on your way to new sights, to better vistas, to the high point of the trek both literally and figuratively. From the top you have views around. You are on top of the world and seeing anything and everything off in the distance. For an overnight hike, you are hiking towards the knowledge of a hot meal and a place to rest your legs. The uphill battle isn’t really uphill because the end is always in your mind as a carrot on a stick.

But once you’ve reached the top and savored what you came to see, there is no zipline back to the car. And unless you are really adventurous, there is no parachute in your pack to expedite your return journey. You are on top of a mountain, rested as best as you can be, with the knowledge that you have to load up your pack and hike down. The trip down today was hard on the knees, toes, ankles, and sense of preservation. Going up, you fall forward and hit you knee. Going down, you fall forward and hit a  bit of momentum. On the ash and gravel covered hike down today, you fall forward and that momentum will take you over a cliff. And so we trekked for 5 hours downhill, slowly and methodically watching our steps, only seeing the surrounding landscape when we paused to stop moving.

On the plus side, most people coming down off an addiction don’t get to end their trek with a ride in a bus that fords major glacial rivers in whiteout dust storm conditions.

Wed June 30, 2010

The hard part is coming down

Ask any addict and they’ll tell you that the hardest part is always coming down. It is why coffee fiends get headaches until they can find their next cup. It is why alcoholics have hangovers and seek the hair of the dog. It is why people on cocaine spend their entire time high looking for more cocaine. It is why speedballs were invented – cure coming down off heroin with cocaine. And smokers trying to quit are sold a product that advertises that it makes quitting suck less.

The same holds true for the second half of a mountain hike. Going up, no matter how hard on your legs, is rewarding. You are on your way to new sights, to better vistas, to the high point of the trek both literally and figuratively. From the top you have views around. You are on top of the world and seeing anything and everything off in the distance. For an overnight hike, you are hiking towards the knowledge of a hot meal and a place to rest your legs. The uphill battle isn’t really uphill because the end is always in your mind as a carrot on a stick.

But once you’ve reached the top and savored what you came to see, there is no zipline back to the car. And unless you are really adventurous, there is no parachute in your pack to expedite your return journey. You are on top of a mountain, rested as best as you can be, with the knowledge that you have to load up your pack and hike down. The trip down today was hard on the knees, toes, ankles, and sense of preservation. Going up, you fall forward and hit you knee. Going down, you fall forward and hit a  bit of momentum. On the ash and gravel covered hike down today, you fall forward and that momentum will take you over a cliff. And so we trekked for 5 hours downhill, slowly and methodically watching our steps, only seeing the surrounding landscape when we paused to stop moving.

On the plus side, most people coming down off an addiction don’t get to end their trek with a ride in a bus that fords major glacial rivers in whiteout dust storm conditions.

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This entry was posted on June 30, 2010 by in Iceland.

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