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  • Writer's pictureJessie Cheng

the mountain that stands in between

for one of my best friends r.x., whose resilience inspires me


everyday, my friend walked five miles alone through the hills in her hometown, music sheets in her hands and splinters on her feet. 


she mumbled a song of joy and resilience, of sorrow and loneliness. the sun in asia beat down on her while she nodded to the beat on her tongue and the beat in her heart. 


she thought about what her piano teacher said earlier that morning: “the only mountain standing in between you and what you want is yourself.” she stopped to look up at the pale blue sky, its arms embracing her with merciless heat. or, in the way she liked to describe it: undeserved warmth. she then looked down at the dirt caught between her toes and wondered where these two feet would take her next. she smiled with nervousness, not knowing the answer. 


then, her smile widened. the unknown, she remembered, was what excited her. 


she moved across the world and is now only a train ride away. my friend of nine years owes me nothing but gives with such open hands. she knows how much it hurt when i felt like the only thing that could comfort me was the beat of a sad song, when all i could see in the splinters on my mind was pain rather than strength.


her friendship feels like shade from the harsh sun, merciless with its heat. my friend gives undeserved warmth, when all that she has overcome should have made her icy cold instead. when i tell her i have no idea how to approach my future, she tells me that the only thing standing in between me and what i want is myself. 


“where did you hear that from?” i ask. 


“a piano teacher i had when i was eight,” my friend replies. 


i pause before admitting, “i guess fear is what’s standing in my way.” i give her a nervous smile. “i’m not sure what i'm supposed to do with my life.”


“do any of us?” she asks through a faint smile. then, her smile widens with excitement. “but that’s the best part.” 


my friend radiates love and strength. she is living proof that the things that could have broken you are also the things that end up making you, if only you allow them to. she reminds me that it’s an undeserved blessing to have an unknown to be nervous and excited about, to be able to feel dirt in between your toes and splinters in your feet and the sun on your face. the cruelness and the uncontrollable and the vastness of life - they are all things that can be embraced with resilience.


the key, then, is to not be the mountain that stands in between you and these freeing truths. 


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