Mount Everest, North Face

I didn't climb it. I didn't even do the hard part of getting to base camp--that would be courtesy of the driver who navigated a precarious dirt road through the Himalayas. The weather cooperated, which I had nothing to do with. All I did was not turning back as altitude rose and oxygen levels declined. Of course, that's not to be taken for granted-- sometimes merely getting to the foothills of great heights already requires tremendous luck and determination.
     So there at the end of the road I stood, face to face with literally the pinnacle of nature. Indifferent and inscrutable, it nevertheless seemed to have a message for me that I, in my oxygen-deprived state, couldn't decipher. But I didn't care--the rich but heavy sea-level air had been purged from my lungs, and I was for once free from my thoughts.
     In the years since, almost all of which back down at sea level, some indescribable remnant of this memory has stayed with me, buoying me and grounding me. Perhaps the message was simply that things would be alright.