When I started thinking about what exactly I wanted for my first tattoo--the mountains easily came to mind. Although I thought of getting butterflies to match my mom's tattoo, or "lómhara" as a way to memorialize my grandfather's last words to me (that means precious in Gaelic), or even the moon and planets since I've always felt a strong connection to them, the mountains really stuck with me.
Not only would they symbolize my adventure of moving out to Colorado, something that didn't even seem like a possibility for a homebody like me, and leaving my hometown behind to journey into completely unknown territory, the mountains have become so much more to me now.
What I thought would be the hardest mountains to climb, ended up being some of the easiest. Sometimes the path was simple, straightforward, and steady. Sometimes the trails got a little rocky, adding some altitude here and there, and even feeling blind so I would have to keep moving forward with only cairns to guide me every now and then. But I always got to where I needed to go.
There were other unknown peaks that I would end up summiting in my time out here. Those that I never anticipated, that I didn't see coming, and that would really try to break me. Sometimes I had to move backwards, or start over, or break for awhile. Sometimes I had to find a new route, or get over whatever obstacle was in my way to continue on. Sometime those mountains seemed impossible to overcome without getting hurt along the way. I was tired at times, I was lost, and I was alone out there, but I had hope that something better would come.
I would find something better.
But when you reach the peak, when you think you've made it, sometimes you hadn't. And I realized that just because I made it to the top, nothing changed. I was still tired, lost, and alone at times. But I kept that faith in that things would turn around for me.
Coming down the mountain is a much faster hike than going up. There are new challenges, but they are easy and there is an end in sight. All the time it took for you to get to the top and cherish the view for a little while, it can sometimes seem unworthy of your effort, your health, and your time. But coming down is much quicker, its not the slow and heavy time, its not the long and hard drive, its the calming effectiveness of almost getting where you didn't even know you wanted to be.
I found that my mountains were not based off of getting to top, but were best when I came back down as a new person. The climb is hard, the view is great, but the descent is where you actually change. I opened at the close.
My tattoo is a simple of my adventures--my struggles, my hardships, my experiences. And most importantly, my growth. My mountains are a reminder of what I've accomplished, of what I've survived, and of what I've been capable of. My tattoo is a symbol of all the theoretical mountains I've conquered in the past year and that is what I see every time I look at them. I can see where I've been close to the end, where I thought I was at the end, and where I thought I wanted to give up.
Sometimes in life, the mountain's peak is only halfway. And sometimes, the ending is what you were looking without ever even knowing it.