Growing up in the shadow of Mount Rainier in Washington state, I could hardly wait for our annual family trek to the 14,400-foot peak. My parents, brother, sister and I would spend the day hiking the easy trails, feeding bread crumbs to the friendly chipmunks, and admiring the spectacular vistas. As a girl, I can remember standing in a windswept meadow of wildflowers. Gazing up at the majestic, snow-kissed peak, I felt joy pulse through my veins. I felt the bells ring within me. There, in that heavenly realm, I felt alive. At peace. At home.
Yet . . . as much as I have always had a kinship with mountains, it is not an easy journey for me. I am uncomfortable in high places. Okay, I’ll just say it. I’m scared of heights. I could give you plenty of reasons: I have poor vision and get dizzy when I have to see distance and once I was trapped on a rickety ski lift at Idaho’s Schweitzer Mountain at sunset. Yet, reasons are excuses for not moving forward. So what do I to get to my beloved mountains? I swallow my fear and get on that chairlift for a heart-pounding, sweat-inducing ride to the top. As I dangle from the thin wire a hundred feet above the ground, I tell myself everything will be okay once I reach the summit. And it is. It always is. All of my fears, doubts, and struggles fall away and all that remains is triumph.
I’ve had many similar ‘mountains’ in my life. Of course, courage is only one aspect of overcoming a fear. You can ‘gut it out’ for some things, but for most goals, you have to lay a foundation. Bravery without preparation will not take you far. When I was in middle school, I was fairly certain I wanted to be a journalist, but I was a shy girl. I knew this was going to be a problem, unless I dealt with it. I wasn’t sure my timidity was a mountain I could climb on my own, so I took a debate class in high school. I learned to write a coherent argument, to craft a persuasive speech, and to speak confidently in public without my knees knocking. To my surprise, I fell in love with debating and it opened the door for me to become a television news reporter and, in time, a children’s author, who happily speaks to student groups of all sizes.
Mountains, whether they be physical or metaphorical, are necessary. They test us. They teach us. They remind us reaching any great pinnacle requires fortitude and perseverance. This summer, I’ll be heading to one of my favorite destinations, Whistler B.C. I’ll summon my courage and get on that phone-booth of a gondola, holding my breath (and hopefully, my lunch) all the way to the top. Then, standing above the world, I’ll jump up to tap the wispy clouds and revel that, once again, I made it. Everything I will go through to get there will be worth it. It always is, you know.
Trudi Trueit knew she’d found her life’s passion after writing (and directing) her first play in the fourth grade. Since then, she’s been a newspaper journalist, television news reporter and anchor, and freelance writer, but her favorite career is what she does now—writing for kids and tweens. She’s published more than 90 fiction and nonfiction titles for young readers, including Stealing Popular (Aladdin MIX) and the Secrets of a Lab Rat series (Aladdin). Look for her new title for tweens, The Sister Solution (Aladdin MIX), this fall. Visit her website at www.truditrueit.com.
Photos by Bill Trueit.
7:30 BELLS Posts run every Tuesday.
7:30 BELLS Guest Posts run on the second Tuesdays of every month. Join me on August 11 for a guest post with children's book author, L.L. Owens.