Rising out of the clouds, there she was. A majestic mountain maiden clad in white, her jagged rocky pyramid reaching above all the others, into the brilliant sunrays of the Swiss sky. The Matterhorn.
The worst year ever
The year 2015 was one of the toughest years of my life. I worked long, physical days in our clinic after my father broke his dominant hip and wrist. And I worked emotionally through the pain and process of the dissolution of my marriage. So, after many long hard months, I stumbled from the turmoil and escaped with a dear friend for a week of autumn hiking and rejuvenation in the Swiss Alps.
During the difficult months of perseverance, I focused on texture. My personal observations of the small, often-overlooked beauty and detail of our world showed me how texture can be the depth of color in a flower blossom, the random patterns in granite stone, or the fuzzy striations of a bumble bee. Texture is any myriad of small, fascinating details that bring feelings of joy, calm, and gratitude. For me, texture is also a reminder of the freedom to live my own unique life.
I embarked on the trip to the Swiss Alps ready to take in all the vistas and appreciate all the textures revealed in the place’s culture and geography. And they were wondrous. The mountain panoramas of the Alps are astonishing. Delicious chocolate and cheese melted with just the right softness on my tongue. The joyous sound of waterfalls and cowbells carried me into slumber each night.
As we hiked below the north face of the Eiger through traditional Swiss villages hanging on steep mountainsides and breathed in the fresh alpine air, questions and doubts still distracted my mind. Was I strong enough to forge my own trail? Could I diverge from my set professional pathway? Would I dream big again?
Seeing the Matterhorn was definitely a bucket list item for the trip. As we arrived in the nearby village of Zermatt, it was shrouded in rain and clouds. Disappointment crept over us as we dragged our luggage over the damp streets to our lodging. The kind lady in our hotel reassured us that we should proceed immediately to the train.
As the cog train climbed above the clouds and onto the Gornergrat ridge, the iconic pyramid of the Matterhorn revealed itself. The sight took my breath away. Talk about texture! I stared in awe.
Arriving on the ridge, I reveled in the crystalline shapes of the fresh snow on the trail. I delighted in the round finger loops of the steaming white mugs of coffee in the ridgetop café. I tirelessly drank in the different perspectives of the mountain from every viewpoint.
The classic view
On a trip down a side trail, we discovered a small glacial lake. Its calm clear surface reflected a perfect mirror image of the Matterhorn pyramid. The added texture of the small freshwater grasses waving slowly below the water’s surface was mesmerizing.
I found a large boulder on the edge of the lake to stand on while trying to capture the magnificent vista on my camera. As I stood there looking up at the Matterhorn and watching its reflection in the water, I was inspired with new confidence. If climbers could conquer those forbidding granite walls, I could master my life and do it in my own way.
My friend also made a photo that day. She snapped the moment of me standing on the boulder–camera to my eye, Matterhorn in the skyline–as the energy flowed into me. That picture perfectly envelopes the essence of my soul: a restless girl exploring the mountains, camera poised, taking in the view and the texture that inspire her.
A spiritual experience
Standing on the Gornergrat ridge looking out on the Matterhorn felt like a spiritual homecoming. It was a gentle reminder that the world is bigger than just me, that all I need is enough faith to take one step forward at a time. Seeing that magical mountain helped me to believe in my own capability and dreams. I don’t know if I could have articulated the emotional shift in words that day, but the feeling started in that moment.
As we rode the cog train down through the fall foliage and into the village, I felt a peace that I had never felt before. Now I carry the little Gornergrat train ticket in my wallet as a good luck charm for the future, both reminding and inspiring me to keep stepping forward.