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Cliffhangers

January 29, 2020

Ever since I was little I loved the outdoors. My mother instilled this in me through hikes and nature walks. She would stop to identify plants along the way to the point that I know what burdock, mullion, and yarrow look like and what they are used for. Living in Utah for practically all of my life (barring the 3 months that I was in Europe), I have pretty easy access to the mountains and can receive some respite just about whenever I want. Waterfalls, scenic views, snow, cute animals, and peaceful silence are a mere fifteen to thirty minute drive away.

In more recent years, one of my brothers introduced me to rock climbing. For reference, I’ve been terrified of heights and falling from them for who knows how long. I suspect it came from teetering dangerously close to a ledge in Yellowstone and having a well-meaning brother push me closer to that edge. Whatever the reason, heights are bothersome. Yet, I really enjoy rock climbing—of the indoor variety. In this case you have harnesses and ropes and climb in a simulated environment. You feel the burn for days after, sometimes weeks, but it is a great workout and a lot of fun.

But I would never climb indoors or outdoors without harnesses and ropes. A 90 degree angle of steep cliff face is not my idea of a good time, unless there is some safety. And yet, sometimes in life it seems like that is the path that you get put on. Clinging, grasping, yearning for the next hand or foot hold that you come to. Trying to get to the top, wherever that is. Eventually, you know, you’ll come to the top and find a path. Maybe that path will be steep, but it can’t be straight up anymore. You wish for harnesses, for a place to rest, for anything that can help you. But the mountain is what it is, and there are many things that you can’t change. You recognize that and keep going, optimism burning in your heart and fatigue burning in your muscles. And then it starts raining and everything becomes slippery. You look at the mountain goats who somehow are able to stand on the sheer cliff face. They have the audacity to watch you and sneer. And the worst part is you have no idea how much further you have to go.

Sometimes you just want to let go. Or to stop completely. But every once in a while, as long as you keep moving and keep trekking, there will be a ledge. A nice big one to sit on and catch your breath. Something that you’ve been waiting for. A place to rest and recharge. Maybe you still have a ways to go on that cliff face before you can get back to a normalized path, but this ledge will help you get the rest of the way up.

This is what it was like to hear that my book has been accepted by a publisher. I’ve been having a rough go of it, and it feels like I’ve just been struggling to keep my hold on the mountain. I don’t know if it will continue to be so steep, but I’ve found a ledge. A hope for the future. Even if things are uncertain, I know that there are good things ahead along with the bad. And whatever happens, at least I’ll be stronger by the end of it.

So my book is getting published. Now what?1

1 If you know what I am quoting you get triple chocolate brownie points.

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