Eyeing the water a short drop in front of me, I removed my boots, then socks, and cuffed my sleeves, then jeans. I shoved socks, phone, and keys inside the combat boots now draped around my neck, tucked my dog under my arm, and jumped.
I didn’t reach this spot on accident, but I didn’t plan it either. My mental strategy is to physically overcome, so I’ve recently developed a habit of running to the mountains. The waterfall I saw from the top of the bluff flowed about a mile downriver, and I aimed to reach it before dark; the sun, I noticed, was nearly ready to slip down the sky. I laughed at the ridiculous time constraint I had put on myself-the drama I had created. The need to overcome.
“I go running to your mountain…..” played in a loop in my head, and I couldn’t decide if it was a thought or a prayer. I had become tired of hiding myself in the shadow of someone else’s mountain-a mountain where I didn’t belong.
Sometimes I tie my hopes to circumstances and people that were never meant to be mine, and rage when they inevitably break my heart.
“Break” is a strong word. I’ll say fracture.
It’s like when you tell a kid, “Don’t touch that, it’s hot.” But its a kid. Kids are hard-headed and they don’t CARE if a cookie is hot- they eat it and it burns their tongues like you told them it would and if they’re little, they cry and it turns out it wasn’t even worth the bite anyway because the cookie was oatmeal raisin and not chocolate chip.
That’s what it was like.
So there I was, me and my overreactive, slightly fractured heart standing on a September rock in my church clothes, dog tucked under my arm in the middle of a half dry gorge, racing the sunset.
“I go running to your mountain…” I repeated again and jumped from large rock to small boulder.
This was not as treacherous as I want you to believe. A family three kids deep crossed the river in front of me, but with my sweater tied around my waist, hair messily pulled back, and of course my dog under my arm, I felt much more dramatic than their family outing.
“…Where your mercy sets me free…”
We made it to the waterfall at half past the start of sunset, just as a siren rang through the gorge-closing time. Feeling only slightly less dramatic, I scrambled up the mountain, deciding which tree branches I would tie myself to for the night if this were the Hunger Games, and desperately tried to convince the stranger I met on my way up that yes, I live in Nashville, but no, that doesn’t mean I don’t know about woods and leaves outside the city.
I am dramatic and I also need to prove myself.
We made it up and out of that small mountain before sunset, shivering and only half soaked, which I considered an accomplishment. I decided I’d rather end my day in an uphill climb with scraped hands, a wet pant leg and perpetually bruised knees than placidly wait for life inside a shadow that doesn’t belong to me.
I go running to your mountain.