The fog lay heavy like a wool blanket on the valley as we drove to the forest, away from my half-written book strewn all over my house – across countertops, floors, and tables. The lone car in the parking lot that morning, we rode up to Cedar Mountain in Dupont State Forest hoping to make it in time for the sunrise.
The climb, short, but full of spunk, left me panting in the way that reminded me how I take my usual ease of breathing for granted. At the top of the dome, we stopped in the middle of the granite field to admire the view. I greedily inhaled and took a long pull of water as the sunshine streamed down on the rock, on the scrubby pines, and on us.
The rock glowed and I wandered around the sun-dappled granite admiring the intricate textures, the way quartz seem woven in layers, the way it seemed to shine, almost as if the light came from somewhere deep within the rock.
I stretched my arms, welcoming the expansive sensation of taking up space after a week of hunching over my computer, typing words into paragraphs, paragraphs that were adding up to the chapters of my book. I’d been letting myself think about one chapter at a time, because every time thought about writing an entire book, it seemed too daunting of a task, too big for me to accomplish.
That morning, standing on the top of Cedar Rock, I touched the edge of something within and my perspective changed. I looked out at those mountains and the seemingly impossible tasks of learning to mountain bike with some moderate level of grace and writing my second book became within grasp.
My friend called out to me. “Worth getting up early for, every time.”
“Yeah, so pretty,” I said, trying to find the words to explain the magic of the morning, but all I could manage was the obvious.
“Ready to go?”he asked.
“Sure,” I said, following him on the trail of bare rock between moss and lichen on the other side of the mountain where the sun hadn’t yet reached.
The rock sloped down and became studded with potholes, and we rode in the early morning shadows of the pines. I’d read about the descent – rocky and technical with drops most walked – and as I thought about what was coming up, my monkey-mind churned the downside of momentum.
What if I start going too fast?
What if I get out of control?
What if I get hurt?
I got so gripped in my mind that I pulled hard on the brakes, stopping in a pothole and catapulting my body in slow motion right onto the rock.
There was no way to pretend to be somewhere else than right there, sprawled out on the cold rock. Before getting up, I lay there for a minute until I realized that nothing hurt other than my ego.
The rest of the descent I hesitated, waiting to feel more confident, waiting to feel up to the challenge, waiting for the trail to become easier. I found that the longer I waited, the harder it was to start and to build momentum.
I was putting the brakes on life. I’m not saying I should have just gone full throttle and flown down that rock, but I do want to stop holding back when I should keep moving and embrace momentum.
We got back to the car, a few others were in the parking lot by then, and drove home to where my writing waited for me. I swelled with renewed resolve to sit down and do the work, building the momentum that will one day lead to a book.