Ruby’s story and other stories can be found on this link:
Ruby forged ahead into the teeth of winter.
The clarity of her purpose guided her forward as she followed a pathway taught to her by the local guides. It wasn’t always clear what she was following, but the towering presence of Mt. Liebe was its own compass.
She camped at the base of the mountain, but struggled to sleep. The wakefulness of her mind felt alive and sharp.
When the first light softened the dark of night, Ruby already was moving up the mountain.
Slogging through snow the day before had been quite an exertion. Adrenaline had spurred her through the discomfort. But heading up a mountain through increasingly high snow drifts was a next level challenge.
Ruby poured sweat. Her breath steamed in thick clouds of anticipation and hope.
However, when she stopped, the cooling of the sweat chilled her deeply. She realized she couldn’t push so hard without risking hypothermia.
Her trek slowed down.
As she paused at one break, she realized she was no longer following any kind of a path. She had to find her own.
The eastern face of the mountain looked too sheer and beyond her capabilities. She headed towards the western side. It was covered in lots of snow, but appeared more gradual.
Ruby’s pace slowed to a crawl. Each step was work in the waist-high snow. She rounded a bend to find a protected area under pine trees where she could stand on a bed of pine needles and rest.
The ground shook and rumbled. A massive crash ripped through the area.
Ruby dropped to the ground and covered her head. Snow fell on her, but not much.
The moment passed.
She crawled around the corner of the path she’d taken. An avalanche had eradicated the path. She had missed being pummeled and possibly killed by snow, ice, rock, and branches by minutes.
She breathed hard through the flood of fear in that realization.
She also realized that her path off the mountain was cut off.
Ruby looked ahead.
She had a long way to go, and now it was mostly…UP.
Soon she was climbing and using her ice pick to climb on ice. Her guess about the western face being easier was wrong.
Ruby felt fatigue taking hold of her, but she pushed on climbing. She forced herself to focus on increasingly numb fingers to keep them working.
She swung her ax into an ice sheet.
The ice gave way, pulling her ax out of her hand.
She clung to the ice wall with her other hand as chunks of broken ice and snow fell over her. She watched the helpful tool clatter, clunk, and then softly disappear into a bed of snow far below.
She looked up, but realized she couldn’t make it without her ax. Ruby had to get back to a place where she could snowshoe again.
Felt the fear.
Breathed some more.
Then she inched her way toward what looked like a ledge to survey her situation.
Another ice chunk fell away from her hand. She clung back to the other handhold.
Felt more fear surge through her.
Finally, she made it to the ledge off the ice wall. But she had no clear view from here.
She had no logical idea what to do. She breathed. Decided to make a leap of faith and headed back toward the east from this place, climbing more than walking. Fortunately, she found exposed rock to climb on. The trade off was that there was wind.
Much more wind.
That’s why the rock was exposed.
As the wind howled in fits and blasts, she felt exhaustion emerge. Her clarity dimmed. The desire to rest grew stronger along with the doubt about what she was doing. But she couldn’t listen to doubt. She had no choice, but to persevere.
Her hand slipped mid climb.
She started to fall as the weight of her pack pulled her downwards. She let it go.
Her pack fell.
It fell with her extra clothes.
It fell with the remaining small mementos from Padreson Chemin, the desert, and her hometown–Dormir.
It fell with her compass, food, personal journal, and other things.
She now only had the clothes on her back and her water pouch slung around her waist.
The fear of the moment renewed her resolve and dissolved the exhaustion. She couldn’t linger on the loss.
She returned to climbing.
Then exhaustion found her again.
Exhaustion grew. Her muscles shook. Her breath came in ragged gasps as the thinner air of the high elevation tormented her. She felt herself almost ready to pass out.
She made it.
She hauled her exhausted body on top of the Mt. Liebe.
It took a moment for the realization to hit her. She was here. She’d achieved it.
She looked around. Could see in every direction for miles upon miles. She saw tiny little Padreson Chemin. She saw the desert and the wilderness through which she’d come. She saw the great forests to the west and north. She could faintly see the Erleuchtenden Mountains and the Bewilderness. To the east, after another stretch of great forests and wild lands, the Endless Plains could be seen.
“Woooooooooo!” she cheered. “I’m here!!!!”
Her voice rang out. She shouted even more.
And laughed more.
She’d done it.
Then the moment passed.
The exultation passed.
The exhaustion returned.
The thin air hit her more strongly.
The loss of her pack and virtually all of her supplies came back to mind.
The lack of any understanding of what to do next came up.
Ruby blinked in consternation at the change of feelings. The moment was extremely serious.
“Was the summer hiking trail too easy for you?” a familiar voice asked.
Interpretation of the Allegory
Have you ever had a dream and achieved it?
Have you ever had a really amazing and intense experience–a peak experience?
This allegory explores both.
A lot of people spend their whole lives trying to achieve dreams and goals while others seek intense peak experiences.
A lot of time, effort, and money can go into the cultivation of those things, and at this juncture in Ruby’s journey, we see her at the culmination of her longing for love. Mt. Liebe is a metaphor for achieving a “higher love”–Liebe means love in German. That’s been her big dream.
Higher love is being differentiated from the human love and romance, which she had found with Tru. That wasn’t what she really wanted.
In many regards, Padreson Chemin was a place of enjoying pleasures. The pleasure of attention. The pleasure of feeling included. The pleasure of sex and romance. She enjoyed it, but that’s not where her deeper attachments are. So it was easy for her to give it all up abruptly and rather rudely.
Mt. Liebe is about much deeper experiences.
And this costs her a lot.
A lot of our dreams and attachments to peak experiences can have significant costs depending on the dream and the experience being sought. We can give up a great deal.
We see Ruby having to give up things by the force of mistakes. She is not intentionally letting go of her ice pick and backpack. In fact, some of the things she lets go of she should not have.
From time to time, I hear from someone “trying to be spiritual” living out of a van with no money because they gave everything away. Or someone else lost everything because they decided to stop working because they don’t like “the system.” People can put themselves in very poor situations to achieve different “higher” level things. This is not wisdom.
Additionally, seeking peak experiences is folly as well. All experiences come and go. Sure, we can fun for a little while, but many people confuse their peak spiritual experiences as the experience they’re supposed to have all the time. They can become spiritual thrill-seekers who can become extremely lost on the spiritual path as they try to recreate an experience again and again and again.
On the achieving goals side of the metaphor, they too are temporary. How we arrive at the goal matters a lot, a lot, and Ruby gave up the wrong things, lived on the wrong kind of faith. She is now in a lot of trouble on the top of a mountain she doesn’t know in the middle of winter.
She didn’t have to climb Mt. Liebe/achieve her dream this way.
The line at the end of the allegory from the mysterious voice points this out.
Who was talking to her?
How is she going to get off the mountain in the middle of winter when she is so exhausted?
More is coming.