Icy water caresses my calves, shocking them and leaving them tingling. The same water flows over my feet and ankles, but they can no longer feel it. Still, though they may be numb to the temperature of the melted snow, they aren’t numb to the sharp rocks that they traverse. I wedge my foot between two rocks, seeking stability from the rushing water that tries to push me back, and look up.
Ahead of me, the river stretches out. The beauty here is raw, trees planted into mountain, stretching endlessly towards the bowl of unrelieved blue above me. But it isn’t the view on either side of me that’s pushing me now.
Jutting out from the rapids is the big rock. Looking as though it was planted there, oblivious to the current that brushes by it. It stands firm and beckons to me with its sun drenched curves that would be a perfect place to sit. To rest for a moment and let the river rush by without me.
My father stands to my side, a long stick in his hand to help navigate through the rocks beneath our feet. And I know he’s seen it too when he turns to me and says, “Let’s get to the big rock.”
I look out again, across the expanse ahead of me. There are setbacks that I can see: smaller rocks to work around, currents to push past. I know that there are other hindrances hiding in wait beneath the surface as well. Challenges that I can predict will come even though I can’t yet see the shape of them.
But the big rock is looming ahead of us, beckoning like a promise. Push through it, fight your way here, and then you can rest with me, glorying in the peace that I offer and the achievement that you won.
You never know what experiences in your life will shape you. Hiking, camping and “river-walking”, as we liked to call it, were common in the summers of my childhood in Colorado. Yet on this day, my father taught me about determination, perseverance, and to always keep going, step by step, towards what you want.
We made it to the big rock that day. And sitting on it, enjoying their world around me and knowing what I accomplished was an amazing feeling – and one I’ve never forgotten.
Since that day, every major goal I’ve set for myself has felt like that big rock. Writing a novel has always been the biggest dream of my life, the greatest accomplishment that I can imagine myself personally achieving. Right now it’s not going especially well. But I have to keep fighting through it, pushing against all obstacles and accepting the fact that there may be some challenges as yet unforeseen that I will still have to deal with on the way to my goal.
But the big rock is still there. And I know when I’m sitting on it in the sunshine, reveling in everything that achievement brings me, it will be glorious. So I have to keep going.