Two backpackers met for coffee to discuss their next backcountry excursion. One backpacker was a father. A blue backpack rested by his dusty hiking boots. The other backpacker was a daughter. Her red backpack was bulging with gear.
Father laid his map on the table between their mugs and directed their route to the top of the mountain. Daughter rolled her eyes and pointed to an alternate route.
Father said, “No. This one.”
Daughter exclaimed, “No! This way!”
Back and forth.
Back and forth.
Daughter picked up the map, tore it down the middle. She handed Father his route, placing her own in a pocket of her red backpack.
“Agree to Disagree.” She remarked, hoisting her pack over her shoulder. “See you at the top.”
“At the top then.” Father grumbled.
And they set off on their own routes.
Father hiked. His trail led him to the top of the mountain.
Daughter hiked. Her trail led her to the top of the mountain.
They caught sight of each other, continuing on to meet in the middle. But meeting in the middle was impossible. What they found between them, was discouraging and seemingly impenetrable. It was a slot canyon 10 feet wide and 10 stories deep.
Daughter pulled out her map.
Father pulled out his map.
Right where it had been torn apart, the elevation lines of a slot canyon were etched into the geography.
Father and Daughter made eye contact across the canyon. Options floated through the dry air.
“We can part and take separate routes back down the mountain.”
“We have been apart for so long.”
“You could hike down and come back up my route.”
“That seems hardly fair.”
“Then, the only thing left to do is meet in the middle.”
Father and Daughter both shrugged the backpacks off of their shoulders. Under the hot sun, they unloaded climbing gear, preparing to repel off the ledge of their stubbornness.
Father tied-in and descended first. He led the trail of compromise and lowered himself over the edge of the slot canyon.
Daughter, sweating from the work of preparing for her descent, quietly and slowly made her way over the edge of the sweltering rock face.
Father and Daughter dropped lower and lower and lower into the canyon. Their hands burned, their muscles strained, their pride was heavy as they both worked toward the compromise of the canyon floor.
As Father’s feet touched the dusty land, he waited, patiently, for Daughter to do the same.
Four feet on the solid earth.
Two hearts with the same intention.
One family willing to put forth time and energy into making their relationship work.
Father and Daughter, Daughter and Father, set off side-by-side across the canyon floor together.