Passages - Chapter 10 | Tres Cruces, Chile: The Last Climb

All Passages

The passersby know nothing of my coming climb or of my previous forays upon their sacred peaks and would have given them scant recognition if they had known. To move among these strangers with the wonderful knowledge of my Andean intent fills me with a vague pride. I seem a lonesome sentinel guarding a favored treasure, though the treasure seems valuable only to me.

They say that when one dreams it can last but seconds. But in those seconds one can live a lifetime. We can live and we can dream, and who is to say which is the greater reality, the one we know or the one we imagine?

Welcome to old age, macho man!

I sense the mountain staring back at me. "You and your Andean sisters have remained comforts and mainstays these many years," I stammer. "But there comes a time when life stops giving us things and begins to take them away. Such a time for me is now -- my strength is fading and my days are close to done. Yours are enduring for all eternity." In this seeming reversal of being and meaning, the mountain seems young, while I seem wizened; its expression seems fresh, while mine seems stale; its attitude seems light-hearted, while mine seems somber.

As night descends upon the land, I drift into a deep sleep. The following dream came to me, I believe, by the realization that this is to be my last climb, and our thoughts have an effect upon our sleep. In this case, my many climbs cause me endless memories, and Robert, my Guardian Angel, stands before me, the lifelong protector against threats to my wellbeing. At first, his appearance startles me, for this may be the moment of my final reckoning and atonement.
"Do not worry, Bob, I am here so we might reminisce about our times together. We have been to the Andes' highest places and known their most enduring hardships. I wish to recall the adventures by taking you to where they happened."
He gestures me to accompany him.
"But I am a mere mortal and cannot fly."
"Touch my hand, Bob, and you will be raised up in more than this."