I found myself light-headed and physically strained in less than fifteen minutes. This really annoyed me, so I blew it off. Then I felt dizzy. Then my chest began to tighten. OK, I thought, you’re not thirty anymore, time to stop.
Last week, I attempted to go up the Chief Peaks Trail in Stawamus Chief Park, BC Canada. I was encouraged to do this by the hair & make-up gals from the set of Riverdale just a few weeks prior. When I researched the hike on YouTube, I thought, Nah, better stick with something more appropriate for a middle-age woman traveling alone. Something like the Museum Of Anthropology or Butchart Gardens, which I did. Then Jeff said he was going to The Chief, and asked if I’d join him.
Getting a TV gig during a pandemic is like winning the lottery, but it comes with an aftertaste of survivor’s guilt. At the end of August, I was flown up to Vancouver, BC, to shoot a TV show and would stay for several weeks. How could I be so lucky to get work and get to stay in a much more “COVID safe” country like Canada? The two week, government mandated quarantine, satisfied my lapsed Catholic guilt. I mean, I shouldn’t really be enjoying this, right? To resist enjoyment was futile – my first day on-set was heavenly. But it wasn’t too late to be miserable. Lonliness crept in steadily during my down time before I shot again, and my hopes of citywide explorations were dashed – Sorry, closed due to COVID. With social distancing and mask wearing, I couldn’t even strike up a conversation with a stranger at a cafe. A part of my day was always spent people watching from my seventh floor balcony. So when I discovered that two friends and their son were also in town, I grabbed up any time their family schedule could spare me.
Maybe it was the elevation, maybe it was the intense physical exertion that triggered my hot flashes – who knows? I just knew I had to take it slow, so I rested whenever I felt like it. I ate an apple, and stared at the magnificent pines across the way for a good twenty minutes before I felt better. It also gave Jeff time to befriend a chipmunk. The hike resumed with continued challenges – ladders and rope chains in several places – but we forged ahead, laughing a good portion of the way. And then we made it.
While we ate our lunches atop the first peak, gazing over the waters of Howe Sound, we thanked each other for being there. Neither one of us would have attempted this solo. While other hikers seemed to take it all in stride, we felt like we’d achieved something monumental. Looking at that huge wall of granite hours earlier, I never thought I’d end up on top of it. Seriously. I actually thought the trail would take us somewhere else.
If we feel pain from isolation, then relief comes by reaching out. There’s magic when we say yes. There’s magic when we join with others. Life is meant to be experienced. Every. Single. Bit. The breathtaking vista is inseparable from the uphill struggle. Laughter, and the luscious smells of fresh earth and wood come with sore toes and shaky quadriceps. Even during a pandemic, even when people are crying out for justice, even when our country seems so divided, there’s magic. All we have to do is show up, and start walking. We’ll see it.