Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Upward and Forever Upward

Well, friends, it's the end of the road. Hard to believe it's all over. Soon I'll board a plane for São Paulo. Can I say now when I may come back to the Amazon? No. I'll leave lots of friends here; but I can't forget them. Swimming in the river, exploring the city, visiting the forest: all have left memories. The best, though, are of sharing. I come away with more than I could have brought. Somehow in trying to help a few newfound friends here I have grown and discovered much more than I ever taught.

We were visiting the igapó--a flooded region of the forest --which, during the dry season, separates the Rio Negro from the Solimões when we came upon a tree loosely woven of a dozen wooden stems, now grafted and joined in a timbered web reaching high into the forest crown. I climbed out of the boat onto the trunk and up a short distance. Later one of the young men asked me why. I could only answer that it was a perfect tree, and I loved to climb. I can understand the answer George Leigh Mallory gave when asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest: "Because it's there."

Mallory later explained, "[T]here is something in man which responds to the challenge... and goes out to meet it, that the struggle is the struggle of life itself upward and forever upward...." This short time in Brazil has left me with many experiences to inspire and guide me. For now, moving forward takes me away from the tropical forest. Perhaps someday it will bring me back. In any case I'll keep moving; continuing, upward and forever upward.