To date, being only six years old, it was probably the furthest any of us had seen, looking out over the surrounding plains of Inspiration Peak. It was our debut field trip as first graders in Washington Elementary. True to its name, we did feel inspired, gazing at nature’s finest (within busing distance of Alexandria, Minnesota.)
Then Mrs. Bergstrom sent us down the steep hill. Wait…what? Before I had even decided I was swept up in the descent. Once a few of the boys began tumbling down, we all seemed to fall like dominos. Nervous laughter filled the air. Bumper tennis shoes above our heads. Dirt in pony tails. Skirts flying. Arms flapping. “Had I gotten the word wrong? What was the meaning of inspiration?” I thought as we clumped together at the bottom of the hill.
Mrs. Bergstrom waved her hand, beckoning us back. Some flew up the side like gazelles. Others struggled. I remember thinking, “this isn’t so bad,” as I reached the 90 percent mark. I could see Gerald Reed sitting on the top edge. Maybe I relaxed too early. He was saying something and I slowed to listen. I began to slip. I spun my legs faster. Like a cartoon character, I remained in place while my legs circled frantically beneath me. The only thing rising was the dust. I could see his mouth still moving. “Why was he talking???? I was fighting for my life here!” Others passed me. I was so close…why wasn’t I moving??? With each breath I sucked in a little more dirt. Gerald cupped his hands to his mouth and yelled, “Sloooooowwwww Dowwwwwwwnnnnn!”
In all of our classroomed days, he had never lied to me, so I stopped. Surprisingly, I didn’t fall. I put one foot in front of the other. Slowly. Firmly. And reached the top of the peak. He shook his head and smiled.
It may not come as a surprise, but I can still work myself into a panic. Getting caught in the whirl and twirl of the day. Kicking up way more dust than necessary, I remind myself, “a little less fighting for my life, and a little more living it, please.” I smile. Brush the dust from my legs. And breathe. The view from gratitude is always inspiring!