Among the questionable interests that I indulge is a love for scampering around on big rocks and boulders. Not the sort of scampering that requires bags of chalk and belaying ropes, nothing that technical. Just the sort of climbing around that causes rational mothers to gasp in apprehension but not faint from fear. Bluffs, ravines, outcroppings, the occasional canyon, what-have-you.
There’s something about climbing around on rocks that still makes me feel like a kid, though the last couple of decades have slowed me down a bit, as I was reminded late yesterday afternoon.
I was exploring a local ravine, getting ready to make my way carefully down a series of limestone boulders and ledges that form a wet-season waterfall.
I picked out a good spot for my foot on top of a three-foot high boulder a few feet below the top edge and began to ease my way down. Down happened rather more quickly than I anticipated, although it was definitely easy.
In about two beats of a hummingbird’s wings, I found myself spread-eagled and face down on the ledge below that boulder. Somehow, even with my old man reflexes, I’d managed to tilt my head back enough that my chin only slightly slammed into the stone.
After a few shocked seconds, I checked myself over. A few minor scrapes, one hyper-flexed finger, a barely nicked chin and a deeply bruised ego. My hat had fallen down to the next ledge several feet below the one I was suddenly so closely examining. I scuffed off the rest of the mud from my shoes, climbed down, picked up my hat and climbed back up.
Sometimes the pleasure of an easy path with a great view of the bluffs is better than the trail that runs right down its face. We should consider, when hiking and when living, that sometimes there are very good reasons why the other road is the one less travelled. It doesn’t really matter how much adventure may be had if you don’t survive the trip.
As for a few scrapes and bruises, well now, those are just souvenirs. And hopefully, lessons learned. Lessons that will have us singing some other Paul Simon tune. Maybe, if we don’t mind a touch of irony, “Loves Me Like a Rock.”