“Can’t stop on a hill!” I can’t tell you how many times those words have been spoken in my household–always in a Southern accent, mind you–because this is how they were originally stated.
The quote’s origin? Several years ago, my family (immediate and extended) took a trip to North Carolina’s Outer Banks. There, my sister’s family and my mangy lot visited Corolla Beach to see the wild horses, a herd of free-roaming Colonial Spanish Mustangs. We were lucky enough to find a small family group–complete with foal–leaving the seaside at dusk to head back to their home behind the dunes. We followed on foot up a gradual incline–keeping our distance, as recommended (for their safety and ours).
The horses had just rounded the dunes and we’d turned back to allow them their privacy, when a car came racing toward us, curving widely enough around the dunes that we had to snatch up my young daughter to keep her from being run over. The car’s windows were down and as the couple’s car passed just beside us, churning up the sand, I snapped out of my shock long enough to tell them to slow down. The wife (baby perched on her lap in the front seat, no less) called out, “Can’t stop on a hill!” and off they went.
Yeah, we were kinda pissed. My husband, sister, and I took turns leveling insults at the now-absent couple–not only for nearly running over our kids so their car wouldn’t get stuck in the sand, but also for being stupid enough to drive with a baby in the front seat–yet all the while, we were sharing how grateful we were that no one was physically harmed.
One of us repeated the woman’s words, accent and all, and our family’s quote was born.
Though we most definitely started out mocking the woman for what she’d said, because…duh, woman, over the years, her words have become something of a mantra. When things get tough, someone comes out with, “Can’t stop on a hill.” Everyone chuckles and remembers the evening in Corolla, but then we take the words to heart.
It’s no mystery that everyone–every single one of us–goes through times when it feels like we’re climbing a hill. Sometimes, that hill is a welcome challenge, something to be celebrated; others, the hill seems so steep, we might as well be belly down, clawing at roots and rocks, searching for holds for our hands and feet. That’s okay, right? Progress is progress, even if it’s a slow, wobbly crawl. It’s when you freeze up, panic, that your feet start to slip.
Recently, and for whatever reason, I stopped my slow crawl. I guess I got nervous and looked down at the metaphorical ground far below. I took a tumble.
Image via pixabay/heliofil
It was kind of a chicken-and-egg scenario–a downward spiral of stress, insomnia, Fibro flare (complete with widespread pain and–worse–intense fatigue, brain fog, dizziness), and yes, some depression. It’s hard to know which issues began the cycle, but they all seemed to feed each other. Not fun, but also not the point of my post.
Image via pixabay/pexels
The point is, although I rolled and bumped my way down this steep slope until I hit the bottom, bruised and dazed, there’s only one thing I could do: start climbing again. Sure, it’s hard to get going again, but staying stuck at the bottom isn’t really an option–at least not for long.
I don’t know if there is an actual top to the hill, but it’s the climb that we should be proud of, anyway–the trying, the stumbling, the trying again. Eventually, the slope will lessen and a plateau will be reached–somewhere that will provide a beautiful view, a place where we can look back on our journey and be satisfied with our perseverance. There will be other climbs, but hopefully we will be stronger when we face them.
Image via Unsplash/Jonathan Bean
It seems natural that the words spoken by that woman have become one of my family’s mantras. Granted, you weren’t there, dodging cars in the sand with us, but I’m sure you can appreciate the meaning she never intended.
Yes, life is full of struggles–they’re part of the climb. Even so, you can’t stop on a hill.