Climbing ‘Everest’


It isn’t really Mt. Everest. This is nothing like the great, iconic mountain that  beckons to the committed climber and yearly takes the lives of the unwary and unprepared. My ‘Everest’ is just a very long, very steep upward rising slope that sits at the very end of my morning walk. It starts innocently enough and then rises and climbs so precipitously that I end up panting and puffing like a walrus. Time was when I could cheerfully scale this obstacle with an airy, “Oh, yeah!” Nowadays, I approach this hill and mumble, “Oh. Yeah…” and wonder whether I will be able to conquer it without stopping to catch my breath. But each morning, I make the attempt, and this morning is no different.

How much longer, now?

The steep slope rises higher

With every footfall.

I remind myself that I have bested other Everests before—I suspect that we all have. Most of these are so commonplace that they slide by without much fanfare, but some are terrible. Facing these horrors are soldiers wounded in war, stroke victims, cancer patients, victims of hurricanes and other disasters, and a million brave souls whose names we will never know. These people work through terrible odds— as did the grandson of a friend who was so badly mangled by a traffic accident that he was not expected to survive. That he lived to walk onto the stage to receive his high school diploma gives proof that courage and tenacity can conquer the most formidable Everest.

Such are monster mountains that we pray never to see, but there are day-by-day hills and slopes that face us routinely. Prepping for that all-important job interview; being rejected by the college of choice; having to pull up stakes and leave behind family, friends and a neighborhood known for years—these are familiar and hard on courage and heart. And, less crucial but just as daunting, there is that first sentence of a story or book, the first cut of a piece of fabric or the initial touch of pen or brush to paper.  And, wait, wait, what about cleaning out that closet? Yes, that one—the one we usually close quickly in order to avoid being hit on the head by some falling object?

Every step on the way to the top of the mountain has its new twists and turns, and everyone’s mountain is different. Today I am near the end of my walk and my personal nemesis awaits me. Solid and formidable and looking so very, very long, and steep, the beastly slope dares me to tackle it once more. If there was another, easier path I would take it, but there is only one way home, and it is Everest.

I grit my teeth, take a deep breath, and commence climbing the mountain. As of course I must. As all of us must.

At the mountain top,

Straighten the back, draw deep breath…

Until tomorrow.

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About Maureen C. Wartski

I’m Maureen Wartski, writer, artist, wife, mother, grandmother; you can see that I have many of the bases covered. I was born in Ashiya, Japan, a (then) small town which lay cradled between sea and mountains. In the evenings, we would walk along the road that ran past Osaka Bay, and a great moon would rise out of the water to turn the world to silver. I’m told that my first words were, “Big moon!” All my life I have felt the tug to write something, draw something, put together something with fabric, string and color, and the urge to create has grown through the years. I suppose, then, that it’s a natural thing that this blog be full of the things that so many of you enjoy doing…drawing, making something with fabric, and writing. Yuri's Brush with Magic, my newest book for middle schoolers follows the adventures of a brother and sister, the magic of words, and the incredible magic of the natural world. I'd love to hear from you! You can send me a note at: My blog is here: Or friend me on Facebook!

5 responses »

  1. Oh Maureen, you have said it so well for you and for all of us… so true.
    i had a mountain top experience though… today. It was my 82nd. birthday. Thanks for your beautiful and thoughtful birthday card.
    I think of my own mom at this same age. She was going blind. We had made a special suite added onto our home especially for her. So we could take the best care of her. Still going blind is one of those challenges you write about. My mom was a sunny person, always remembering the good days. and not focusing on the ones that gave her the greatest challenges. Her way of being has been a guide to all of us in our family.
    Today, i am well and my daughter jen, took me for a lovely lunch out and a trip to the Synergy Spa for massage and facial. She had one too.. It’s good to take care of one’s mom and also oneself to bolster against the dark moments of life.
    Jen’s challenge is getting thru her semester of her doctor’s studies. and all the continued tests and papers, read and written.. Yet , she took some time out for us to spend together. adding to the wonderful memories we have shared in our past history. As always, those memories help us face those
    Mt. Everest’s we know will come rising up before us ..and will help us get thru another day.

  2. Hi Maureen,
    I know that incline. Don’t we all? Thanks for reminding us that we all face them. Keep on truckin.’

    By the way, your hawk reminded me that I spotted an owl yesterday while driving the interstate. Can you tell I look at the woods on the roadside probably a bit too much? I think it was a barred owl. I could see it’s round white belly where he was wedged between two branches. How cool is that? We have a hawk that claims part-time residence in our yard. I enjoy watching him on the ground, in the air, and perched and waiting. He even rests on top of our birdfeeder pole. I would find that rather intimidating if I were a bird.

    Merry Christmas, dear friend. May all your paths lead to joy and peace.

  3. Ooops, maybe that was an eagle. Not positive, but I don’t want to insult the bird and I’d certainly never intend to insult the artist. My eyes aren’t too good at knowing the difference. Whichever, it’s lovely!

  4. you all have climbed your Mt. Everest which was more challenging than mine but feels like a Mt. Everest to me. I know i will be back to my old self soon.

  5. Dear Maureen, I love the curvy waves and the bird! Awesome. Thanks for reminding us that we have courage when we face each today climbing up the mountain of life.

    May your joys be astounding and your love all encompassing.

    Never Give Up
    Joan Y. Edwards

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