15) on the way up

My December to Remember II:

News: Senate unanimously passes resolution to ban TikTok on government devices.
Mayorkas called out by border agents during trip to southern border.
National Archives release 11K classified JFK assassination files.

When I was twenty, I went to a week-long fencing camp in Wisla, Poland. It was me, my American friends, and a bunch of Italians who ran the camp. They certainly loved me, even though I couldn’t speak their language. But I had a great time getting to know people from a different part of the world. One of the exercises one day was a major two-hour hike up a rural mountain. I was still in my complainey days, so I wasn’t all that excited about it to begin with. We arrived at the site and were told to go at our own pace up the mount, all meeting at a campground at the top. I remember walking up a big wooded area for about an hour before we got to a clearing that opened into the real mountain work. I took one look at what I was expected to climb and told my coach no, I’m not doing that.

While everyone else walked on, he stayed back with me, urging me to continue the journey. We were about halfway through, and we should keep going. “No,” I kept saying, “I’m tired and my knees hurt.” I could tell how disappointed he was with me, but I stubbornly said I’m not finishing. “Alright,” he began in his Belarusian accent, “You stay, we maybe pick you up after.” And away he walked alone up the path, leaving me sitting under a tree.

I sat there for another fifteen minutes, just waiting on the crew to come get me, not even comprehending how inconvenient a trek that would be for everyone. My coach was out of sight, I was sincerely alone in the Polish wilderness. I had my iPod and a bottle of water to keep me going. The next song that came on was “Move Along” by The All-American Rejects. I listened to the lyrics: …And even when all hope is gone, move along, move along, just to make it through. Something about that motivated me like nothing else could. I looked at my station, sitting by myself, giving up for virtually no reason. So I got myself up, dusted my ass off, and followed the path all the way up, enjoying the solitude and the majesty of the countryside.

I had made it. And I had to dive deep to find it within me to not only find a path forward, but upward as well.

It wasn’t this scenic but I had a path to follow after all.

There are certain times where we find rock bottom, or rock bottom finds us. Circumstances can push us further and further into the dirt, covering us up and making it so the sunlight can never penetrate. We’ll make one bad decision after another and then wonder why we’ve ended up in the shit. Sitting there under a tree in Poland made me feel like the biggest loser on planet earth. Lazy, entitled, just not who I wanted to be. So I made a new decision. It was either root into the ground, or pick myself up and keep going. And I felt electric knowing I had done the internal climb onto a new platform, gaining the knowledge of just what else I’m capable of doing.

This past month has been tough. I’ve gone through things I never thought I would, but at the same time always expected I’d have to. This seems to be how I’ve been writing my life story, and I guess all of it was bound to happen one way or another. I always ask God at night to let whatever is supposed to happen happen, so I have nothing to worry about if all this is as it should be. And even though we’re at the midway point of December, where it should be all downhill from here, I feel like another level has been reached within me, where the upward trajectory is the only option I’m willing to take.

Not all climbs are created equal.

For the first time in a long time, I feel more encouraged by the news we’re seeing. People have absolutely had it with how shitty everything is. Those of you in denial about it, it’s really time to get up to this vantage point. There’s very little excuses people can come up with anymore about the purposeful sabotage and direct incompetence responsible for putting America, and by extension, the world, in this situation. We just are not free. We’re shackled together, bound by some invisible oath none of us took, just the people at the top. They want to sell you vaccines, tell you the border is secure, and celebrate imaginary victories over identity and personality. We’re not being given the tools for self-success, just more handouts, money printing, and condescending pats on the head. By unanimously declaring TikTok a national security threat, one of the Senate’s balls just dropped into place. Perhaps we’ll hear something else pop that’ll show us they’re putting their foot down, instead of letting all the nonsense pass through as they laugh at us from their elevated tiers.

I don’t know what the future will bring and I have to stop pretending I do. I’ll still act as an agent of chaos, secretly hoping for the outcome that makes me laugh the most, but praying for the one that’s ultimately right. Things really can only go up from here, in both my personal life and the news world. I’ve got a good feeling this long trek just might actually be worth it.

You’ll know you’ve made it when you don’t wonder about making it anymore.

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