We were up at sunrise, early enough to beat the crowds and hoping to get ahead of the mid-morning heat. My husband and I arrived just as the morning dew was beginning to evaporate. The air was fresh and laced with a lovely gentle breeze. Around us, the world was alive with birdsong. We checked in at the reception office to register as day hikers and pay the conservation fees for using the trails in the nature reserve. We were both grateful for the peace of our natural surrounds as we put one put in front of the other at the outset of this 8km hiking trail. We followed its meandering path through grass veld and ravine forests. At certain points the terrain shifted and we found ourselves climbing up rocky hills as we ascended to the mid-way point. There were also sections where the crossing bridge had been washed away by the season’s heavy rains and we had to figure out another way forward. The hotter it got, the more strenuous the climb felt. Sweat dripped down our foreheads as we gulped some water here and there to keep ourselves hydrated.
After the physically demanding effort of navigating challenging sections on the inclining path we eventually reached the halfway point at the top of a steep hill. There, we finally sat down to rest, taking in the spectacular view. Life seemed so still from up there, so empty of worry and fear. The sky was brilliant blue, cloudless, and a few interesting looking birds of prey dotted its azure canvas like gliding punctuation marks bringing character to its unseen stories. It felt so rewarding to sit down for a moment, enjoying the benefits of our efforts while the quiet breeze cooled us off. It was a moment to look at how far we’d come. We reflected on the tricky sections of the hiking trail where we’d questioned what we’d gotten ourselves into and whether or not it made better sense to turn back. I was glad that we didn’t give up, that we chose to stick with what we’d set out to do and endured the challenge regardless of what it threw our way, albeit uncomfortable in parts. Now, having reached the apex, I felt a great sense of accomplishment. From there, the decent downward would be easier, less demanding, offering us more time to enjoy the scenery and appreciate its beauty.
As my husband and I discussed our general musings on life at our resting spot, I realised that our experience of hiking trails could very well be a metaphor for what the past year has been like. It started off beautifully with a profound sense of anticipation. Along the way there were many twists and turns, ups and downs. There were points where we weren’t sure if we’d made mistakes or whether we’d be able to face what was in front of us. In many instances we discovered that often the only choice is to follow on forward, even when you can’t see a clear path through whatever you’re facing. In life and in one’s fertility journey as well, there may be disappointments, unexpected detours and frustrations that we have no control over. 2020 has definitely been a year of numerous roadblocks in an unprecedented way. Now, we find ourselves at its conclusion with time and space to reflect on what we have learnt through it all. There is value in taking a moment of pause to assess how far you’ve come and ask yourself some questions:
Where have you been challenged?
What have you survived and how have you tapped into your resilience?
What will you do with the insight you’ve gain?
What will you do differently going forward?
Looking at the past year and myself through this rear-view mirror gives me perspective. Despite all the challenges, it hasn’t been all bad. I see how I have grown. I see how much less I need to survive than I’d imagined I did. I see how this year has taught me about what is actually important to me and what isn’t. Although there has been the lack of momentum in my fertility journey this year, I was gifted the time and opportunity to review and synthesize some of my infertility lessons and experiences into books and other resources to support and guide other women going through similar. It’s so good to celebrate those triumphs however little they may seem.
What stands out to you when you look back on the past year? Can you see how far you’ve come? What will you be celebrating as we wind up 2020?
This post is also available in: Arabic