Saturday, August 3, 2013

I came across an interesting question the other day: “Does the phrase ‘It’s all downhill from here’ mean ‘It all gets worse from here’ or ‘From here everything gets easier’”?

I was asked to comment on that saying but I really couldn’t. I had to think about it for a while (one of my failings). I did think about it and I came up with some interesting points of view. An almost immediate reaction was the fact that there were two such differing inferences that could be made concerning the phrase. It was much like the “glass half full/half empty” saying. One’s personal philosophy of life means a great deal in how one sees the statement.

I also couldn’t help thinking of my personal experiences since I’ve had to give up driving. Since that time almost a year ago, I’ve had to walk from my home to the town of Ligonier and back two or three times each week—a distance of one and one-half to two miles each way—for one purpose or another. I’ve gotten to know all the ups and downs in that route. There are level stretches, mild grades and fairly steep slopes in succession. There is an interesting walk beside a creek that seems to be ever changing. Some of the way is along a heavily traveled highway. Some of the way is tree-lined. There is a small park with green grass, paved pathways and benches near some of the route. Depending on the weather, each of these features is welcome. Some days, the warmth of the treeless level stretches makes for a pleasant walk. Other times it is better to put up with a grade to stay in the shade.

I thought, too, about a book I am in the process of preparing for publishing. It is set partly in the Appalachian mountains and partially in the Cascades. I went through a number of working titles and I’ve finally settled on “Mountains.” That has to do with more than the fact of the mountainous setting of the plot. All the characters in the book have involved stories of their own and all have their own personal “mountains” to climb and not necessarily with the satisfaction of enjoying a coast down the other side. It’s these personal mountains—otherwise called life—that is the main plot of the book. In the book, some of the mountains were climbed, some with good results and some results not quite so good. Some of the mountains were not climbed at all—also as in life.

As far as the saying with which I started out goes, is the downhill route easier or more difficult? There is more to be considered about a path than whether it is ascending or descending. I suppose the more mountains one climbs, the more one can figure that out.