I hiked up an endless hill where half-way the grass became tall and sharp and where I had to, in order to not to trip over, raise my legs up high with each step I took. I started noticing how my breath became laboured and soon my companions (all family members) tuned in with their strained expiration.

I was a day out on the moors on Dartmoor, during a hike with daughter, her partner, my sister, her husband and mine. Sig had found a path through the moors that would take us to a beautiful stone row. After a hearty lunch we went on our way. The sun was shining, the wind was playing with our hair and coats, and the path up the hill we were looking for did not emerge.

While I struggled to get to the top, it became stiller and stiller inside of me, and I experienced the world outside as becoming a still place too. The distance between the other hikers became bigger, the sun started beating down on me, my heart was racing and there came a point that I just could not continue further. I wanted to quit, I wanted to be somewhere where I could feel safe and secure.  I could not stop walking although tears of not-willing-to-go-on-anymore trickled down my cheeks. I noticed how unfit I was and I worried about my family members whom I saw struggling as well. I made a quick mental note: daily yoga, walking up the Tor twice a week and a sensible diet, were the things I needed to do as soon as I got home again, if ever that was going to take place.

It took some time to admit to my sister who was now walking beside me, that I found what we were undertaking very difficult. It was a relief to hear that she had had the same thoughts about the strange difficulty of this trip. We agreed that we were being tested: could we with our minds overcome the rising panic and exhaustion and where was our faith in the goodness of experiences, positive and negative and why could I not see our Earth as my friend anymore?

Since the birth of my children I have not been so physically and mentally tested. The thing that kept me going in the end was that memory of birthing. You cannot just stop during the process, you cannot quit, get out or walk away. You have to go on and that takes courage and it asks for surrendering to the situation, while working hard to get it over with.

We all reached the top of the hill and I could continue the climb by finding that still place inside me and attach no panic or fatigue to it and just work towards ending the experience. Once we had gathered again, and we all talked at the same time about our experiences, we noticed two people walking towards us. They were swift and agile, arms swinging, they were talking while they walked, we could even hear their laughter.

Not thirty yards from where the hill was, through a strange undulation of the earth, invisible from our initial vantage point, we could see the path we had been looking for. We never thought of looking more to the right of where we were walking, and so we all chose a difficult but mentally strengthening path (we all agreed on that one).

Our chosen path illuminated my half-forgotten strength and resilience: I remembered my ability to endure, and it showed me there is the reward of humour, laughter and togetherness once the hurdle was taken. It called for a cream tea afterwards…

-Karin Schluter Lonegren