Did you know that there is no top of the world?
I do, for I have stood there where sky touches earth and the two seep together as one. I’ve gazed upon a magical vista and not known up from down; high from low; heaven from hell; reason from insanity.
The views had been staggering, and so had I, (very much so, actually). The route had been a long one, labouring in the extreme. The most basic of trails had led up, always up. An arduous physical torture of many days on foot, and an equally torturous time in the mind. Even the mysterious Yeti was afraid to scale such heights, instead, preferring to haunt the lower valleys of the psyche.
Vales of gentians had given way to woods of spruce, but for two days my only companions had been rocks; many sizes of rocks, but still only rocks. The concave nature of the mountain walls prevented my ever seeing the summit until I crested that final snow-flecked cliff.
Whether it was the lack of air, the natural spinning of my brain, or worse, I cannot be sure but my eyes professed to lie. For at this point, this height of all heights, I was looking not at a cerulean sky, but at the exact same route I had traversed. A mirror image, a window to my past, where God would not allow me to pass: not yet, anyway.
I stood there with a tear in my eye, not because I had failed, but because I would never know such perfection again.
No bird nor beast had seen this place, this Shangri-La at the top of the world, nor would they likely ever. The most beautiful thing I could ever have imagined and no one to share it with. A cruel trick to play on such a tired soul.
I do not know how long I spent at that place, perhaps minutes, perhaps several lifetimes. But what I do know, turning to leave was the hardest thing I had ever done. And, in truth, I am not sure I ever left?