Life’s Topo Map, Bastion of Hope


I’m not a bastion of anything. Not a bastion of virtue. Not a bastion of values. Not a bastion of tradition. I have friends who think I’m “passive” (so not the case) and others who think I’m easy going (also not the case). I have boundaries as most of us do, they’re just not in places where anyone is likely to fall over them. I’ve also learned that REAL boundaries are not subjects of conversation. Open your mouth to someone about your boundaries and negotiation begins. My boundaries — like those of any well built medieval castle — are not negotiable. Have at them with your catapults and battering rams if you must, but the little person inside has probably escaped through the back staircase up the cliff.

People have to go through their shit. Me too. At the moment, some of my dear friends are confronting inter-personal cataclysms in their lives. For now, I am blessed with the absolute clarity and simplicity of recovering from hip surgery. I know what my job is and how to do it. My list of priorities is comprehensible, elegant and  beautiful.

There’s a left turn in the town of Del Norte that leads up a road to an alpine forest and hiking trails. “Just turn left at the car wash and keep going to the turnout/parking lot,”  explained my physical therapist a few months ago. I checked it out and found a six mile one-way trail.

The trail leads to an alpine lake and a mountain. It will be my first mountain hike since I moved here four years ago. We will attempt it on the third anniversary of Bear coming to live with us, July 30. We’ll arm ourselves against ticks, carry our bear spray (will we need it? doubtful…) I’m sure we won’t go very far that first day, but that’s OK. Among the lessons I’ve learned in my life are how to get better at something, how to go farther, and how to appreciate the wonder of the expansion of my powers and my vision. When will we actually get there? Who knows. I don’t, but I look forward to the clarity of a mountain trail, every bit as sweet and hopeful as my efforts now to regain the ability to walk.

I am being driven forward Into an unknown land.

The pass grows steeper
The air colder and sharper
A wind from my unknown goal
Stirs the strings of expectation.

Still the question
Shall I ever get there?
Where life resounds
A clear pure note in the silence.

Dag Hammarskjöld

18 thoughts on “Life’s Topo Map, Bastion of Hope

  1. And I am thinking about trying a wheelie to visit the hermit. I am not sure how the path will be, but it seems to me if I can wheel along the river bank, then anything is possible. Who needs bastions? We overcome walls with our willpower.

  2. I’m no kind of bastion either. I suppose I think of that word as suggesting “stuck.” In the mud or a mental position. I DID get stuck in the mud by the river on Saturday. I have heel spurs, so all my shoes that aren’t boots have no backs, but I really wanted to take pictures of the lovely blue heron in the river and Garry had the camera with the really long lens. If I called out to him — and that is assuming he could hear me (very much doubt it) — it would scare away the bird. And I was NOT getting up that bank without help because my shoes were glued in the river mud. Probably why I was the only idiot trying to walk there.

    I went through all the categories of what I could do under the circumstances and realized: NOTHING. I settled on sitting there until Garry realized I was missing and came looking for me. Some bastion. But my shoes were bastions in the mud. Birds could have nested in them.

    I think the last time I discussed boundaries was when I was married to someone else.

    • Yep. I’ve been trying to explain to my son-like-thing why talking about boundaries is absurd. Even my best friend still thinks discussing things that are actually intolerable can solve a problem. Just have to let them wander through their personal labyrinths while I ride the bike to nowhere. 🙂 The heron photo was worth the mud. ❤

  3. I love your idea that boundaries need/ought not be discussed. Recognizing that some will view that as an opportunity to “negotiate” (read override).
    I work a lot with clients on boundaries, and also on the idea that disclosure of their own information is based on someones earned trust, not a position of power or desire to know. That said, I also let them know that if they don’t tell me what is going on, I may have a much more difficult time assisting them.

    Sounds like a fabulous hike on the near horizon.

    Smoke from the fires down your way is hazing things up here–breathe easy, and lets hope some rain comes soon. Cooler here today.

    • People are strange. We seem to have been raised in a time, live in a time, where people are unaware that there is such a thing as an irrational appeal to tolerance. Some things are not tolerable and shouldn’t be tolerated, but through setting boundaries and then talking about them, the intolerable (while it remains intolerable) is tolerated. I see that all the time in our political situation and its co-dependent relationship on the media. Pussy grabbing should never have been tolerated; mocking a crippled guy shouldn’t have been tolerable; provoking allies is unwise and shouldn’t be tolerated — on and on and on — but there it is. It’s good for ratings and those who could stand up to it, don’t, except with words.

      I realized with my doc (PCP) that if I don’t tell her stuff, she won’t know and I’ll get meds that rip my Achilles tendon or someone will give me aspirin. I think it’s a matter of who, what, when, where. My PT I trust completely. I know he knows where I want to go, who I am, why I’m there and he’s 100% on my team. I’m so glad I got him — it was the luck of the draw. ❤

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