Ah, the Ridge, one of my favorite places to spend a Saturday morning – living in the Midwest, there are not many places where water touches the earth with such a massive impact like Lake Michigan does at the Dunes. No matter where you stand, either at the height of one of the sand hills or at the edge of the beach where your toes touch the waves, the beauty and the calm in the early morning is like nothing else. This part is what draws me there to endure even the toughest of trails, but conquering the Ridge itself, it’s what shows me anything is possible.
The Ridge is not the longest of trails, but it is 3 miles of uphill sand, winding paths and some seriously awesome views. It tests your strength, endurance, and patience when you get lost coming back (that’s another story). When you start out on the flat path heading to the ocean we call Lake Michigan, you feel energized, ambitious, hopeful and ready to take it on, and then you hit that first steep, never ending sand dune, and about half way up you’re contemplating just heading back down. This is the moment you make a choice – do you turn back and take an easier path, or do you push through to the top where you can take in the beauty of it all.
Like the Ridge, life shows us paths and gives us choices, and it is up to us to choose. Do we take the path of least resistance, the path that will get us to our destination the fastest, without much risk; or do we take the risk, and head down the challenging, sand filled, overgrown path that can make your legs catch fire; however, reveals the splendor at the top before we reach the end?
There are moments in our lives that test our strength and our endurance, moments when turning back would bring relief quicker, where taking the road of least resistance is so much more tempting than climbing that never-ending dune. These moments can come to us in many ways, such as times when we choose to forgive, instead of holding on to hurt and hate; when we choose to accept, understand and love without limits, instead of standing by unfounded or unreasonable beliefs; when we truly listen, instead of just hear; or when we choose to be who we are no matter what anyone says, rather than hold on to the idea of who they think we should be. Is it easier to turn back? Is it simpler? Maybe, but there are no words to explain the view you will miss at the top.
For me, standing at the highest point of the Ridge and looking out at the lake, listening to the waves wash onto the beach, and feeling the breeze on my face, makes every push, every pain, and every choice to climb worth every second. No matter how tired or sore I am, Saturday mornings at the Ridge teaches me about myself, what I’m capable of, and allows me to see the beauty within and around me. I choose the path that takes me there, I hope you do too.