What a better metaphor for the vision we gain from summiting an autism moment – and for the sweat and often grueling slog up the hill that makes it all worthwhile.
As anyone who knows me outside my pseudonym, I love hiking. We discovered it one sunny summer day when the boys were about 6 years old. It made them sleep, it was a family activity that everyone could join, and it offered immense rewards:
- Sleep for the parents. (listed first for a reason.)
- Grins from ear to ear for the boys, who loved the views from the top, the breezes and the rewards we built into the journey, like Cheez Jax at the top, and a restaurant dinner at the end. I’ll never forget W’s dance of joy atop Mt. Eisenhower, our first 4K peak. It spoke to thrill beyond words – and the power to transform a life, one step at a time.
I so loved the above photo, taken last weekend, that I made it my iPhone wallpaper. That’s one of the best things I’ve done in recent memory. It’s my daily reminder of something I found in which my guys excel – which connects them to the neurotypical world of likeminded people – and which has helped them grow.
Two days ago we bagged peaks #37 and #38 of NH’s Four Thousand Foot or higher peaks. There are 48 in all, and we are aiming to complete them so we can join the Four Thousand Foot Club. Over 10,000 hikers are members according to a recent article, and while no one keeps official records on such things, our goal is that the boys become members, which will make them one of very few, if not the first, autistic members. I used to value that possible “first” more than I do today. Now, when we have only VERY challenging peaks left, mainly between 10-18 miles long each, it’s all about the journey.
And isn’t that the truth, my friends. With autism and in life, it doesn’t matter the end you journey toward – the journey is all that matters in the end.
Tomorrow starts our 3-week vacation journey, as in no school for 3 weeks, and no daily structure of the known. I use the word journey quite mindfully. When we hike to a mountain I check the weather, vary the gear, refill the body fuel (ie. snack) supply. WIth this vacation mountain, I’ve made vows, scribbled lists of my objectives and structures for the week, tried to get staff and helpers scheduled. I said prayers too, because only God knows how I’m going to work, manage the boys and deal with respite worker cancellations which constantly mean I am in a tizzy trying to do all things for everybody.
But no matter what – there is some mountain ahead of us, and this blog as well as my iPhone talisman are my reminders that we will reach that summit – and with it will come new skills, joy, and peace.
So come along daily with me for the next three weeks. Check back, and join us – no matter where you are on your path. We will enrich each other’s views from the top.