Stumbling Across Some Deeper Meaning on the Great St. Bernard Pass
Following our last trip through the Alps, there were several mountain passes that we hadn’t ridden that found their way on to my riding bucket list. You know, for “next time.”
In hindsight, it’s really by the grace of the universe that there was a next time. Chalk it up to luck. Or is it something else?
Kenny and I found ourselves at the summit of the Great St. Bernard some time in the mid afternoon. We parked our bikes and strolled around taking in the sights. I bought a sticker and some postcards and resisted the chocolate.
We walked towards the lake and stood there for a few minutes among the stillness of our surroundings. The scale of mountains is so tremendous. I find it difficult not to become introspective about my place in the world when surrounded with such enduring majesty. These mountains – hard, unforgiving, beautiful in their strength. And there I am – a fragile, weak, pink thing.
I stood watching a woman walking two St. Bernards on the mountain to my right. It was then that I had a moment. Not quite an epiphany, but I came to some understanding of my existence in the split second. You can move through your life and recite things by habit. You know these things to be truths on a surface level. But then there are moments of certainty when you come to know something deeply. You feel it and know it not by rote but through some acute awareness.
I came to the simple understanding that… this is it.
This life is all there is, as far as I know. And so it’s up to me to make my life be what I want. I can sit around wishing and dreaming and filing things away to see “someday” but no one is going to bring them to my doorstep. The fear that keeps me stationary eats away my happiness.
Four years ago, I tapped away on some keys and wrote out the words “See the Great St. Bernard Pass.” As trivial as that goal might seem, as I stood watching those dogs walking along breathing in the smells of the Earth, I came to know I’d made it there of my accord. If I can do this thing – Why not anything else I decide I want? My only limitation is my will.
That’s a lot to see in a pair of dogs.
“The fear that keeps me stationary eats away my happiness.”
When I read that line it echoed in my mind…..
I don’t think we were born to work at a desk…
That is absolutely gorgeous! I love taking rides and finding something as beautiful and majestic as you did on this ride. I live near Idlywild, a beautiful mountain out here in SoCal, and I have been dying to ride all the way up and explore the mountain, the small community, and the beautiful scenery (just as soon as I get the battery replaced on my bigger bike – I need the power to get up the mountain roads). I also love finding deeper meanings in things that maybe seem ‘normal’. It just makes life so much more interesting!
Kristy – you owe it to yourself to ride past Idyllwild and drop down the asphalt ribbon of 74 into Palm Desert. Wander back up 249 from Banning… that loop is amazing 😀
I actually live right on that 74 asphalt ribbon :-)…I’m in East Hemet right off the 74 almost at the foot of the mountains leading up to Idyllwild. I’ve ridden about halfway up, but then ‘life’ happened and my kids called me back :-\. I have also ridden Gilman Springs Road between State St and the 60, which is an absolutely gorgeous ride as well! Ok, that’s it! I’m ordering a new battery for my bike (my husband left the bike on and killed the battery – it will say it’s charged on the charger, but it drains before it will start and I don’t have a steep enough hill here to push start it).
Maybe, just maybe, in that split second with the two St. Bernards on the Great St. Bernard, the universe confirmed for you what most of us recite to ourselves regularly: “Live in the now, dammit! This moment is all you have!” Hold tight to that two-dog moment for as long as you can, for human nature and the passage of time conspire against you: They seem to have a nasty knack for leading us to doubt the authenticity of past experiences. And short of happy notes and postcard greetings from friends worldwide of course, most of what’s delivered to one’s doorstep is worthless. It’s just junk mail. So, the cliché continues to hold true—the real value is in the gaining, not necessarily in the having.
For fear of being a blog hog, I refrained from including the following quote in a comment to one of your posts a while back. Fortunately, it’s equally applicable here. I was grateful to have happened upon it a few years ago.
“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” Helen Keller
Cheers. I’m having a drink after that post.
Wonderful post and comment by Raindog. We are headed there this summer. With so many of my mates on RTW adventures I reassess my plans every day and the time of work and experience continue to shift. Thanks for your post. Cheers