In the midwest, we like to name the “fun” sections of our routes, like “The Stairway to Heaven” or “The Piano Keys”. If you’re not familiar with Cuyahoga Valley National Park, then you probably at least heard of the infamous “Heartbreak Hill” on the Boston Marathon course.
I like to call this section of the Colorado Trail/Collegiate West/Continental Divide Trail “Death by Switchbacks.” Now truly, this section of the trail is nothing short of majestic, but in these few specific miles, you drop down from alpine via what feels like 100 switchbacks, cross a short marshy section (pictured here- it looks much different in the summer!), only to return to alpine via another 100 switchbacks. If you’re already feeling tired, it’s nothing short of a struggle. The good news, however, is that once you make the death march (hike, run, or cycle) up, you meet heaven. (If headed southwest, towards the Alpine Tunnel and Cottonwood Pass to the northeast.)
The ego (how we feel about ourselves, our self-esteem) death uses a similar model as this section of the trail, although I’m going to offer a reframe that it is not necessarily about a part of us that needs to die, but actually about the part of us that doesn’t want to truly live, or “be here”, as I’ve written in previous post. It’s that part of us that says life is too hard, too painful. It’s the part of ourselves we try to numb and call it depression. The ego death is actually about bringing that part into Light and reigniting your own inner fire. It’s accepting that there is pain in the world but realizing it is not our own. It’s acknowledging that there is suffering, but it is not our truth. It’s reclaiming our authentic expression of self and believing in our divine right to live freely, peacefully, and joyously. This is “fighting for the Light”.
Again, the question is, will you choose yourself (Love) over fear?