Mafe Maria: Personal stories by autism parent mentor, Maria Stultz

So Far So Close

So many times in my life — be it important or ordinary times — when I’m ready to throw the towel or at least scream if I can’t quit whatever it is that I feel I can’t take anymore, I am reminded of an old story.

. . . . .

Once upon a time, there was a girl who hated to exercise. One day, her friends decided to hike to the top of a mountain. Come on! It will be fun they all said to the girl to convince her to come on the adventure. She said Okay, but I’m not sure that I can make it… After all I’ve been sitting on my butt in an office for twelve full months…

The expedition departed one sunny morning. All boys and girls were so nimble on the trail. They cut through the vegetation and climbed hilly and rocky stretches with ease and joy. All but one. The little girl who hated to exercise was losing her breath very quickly. She had a hard time with the rocks on the trail, and the wild vegetation kept slapping her face as she tried to keep up with her friends, many of whom were heavier, yet in much better shape than her. Come on, Maria! they would cheer to the little girl who was several steps behind. Maria was surely hating her life… Behind her, though, was her best friend. He refused to go ahead with the group and stayed with her walking at her painfully slow pace.

At some point after several hours, little Maria couldn’t take it any longer. She couldn’t see or hear her friends anymore; they had gotten so far ahead. Maria didn’t have any more energy to go on, but she didn’t want to ruin the trip for her friend, so she said: I’m going to stop now, but you go ahead. Leave me with some bread and cheese, and pick me up at this spot when you come back down. No way, José. I’m not leaving you, her friend replied. PLEASE!, Maria begged, but her friend would not leave her. He asked her to sit down and rest. He would stay with her as long as it took, and when she was ready, they would get back on the trail and keep climbing to the top.

The two of them rested at that spot for several minutes. Maria insisted on staying alone, but her friend wouldn’t yield. After some time, little Maria got up again. Ooookaaayyy… I guess I can try to go a little longer she sighed. Her friend smiled and got up. Maria took three steps up and the trail curved immediately into a ramp, which revealed the top of the mountain and the rest of her friends sitting, eating and laughing while contemplating the beautiful view over the great sabana de Bogotá. Maria couldn’t believe that she had been three lousy steps away from the top when she was so ready to quit. She promised herself never to forget this lesson.

. . . . .

But I keep forgetting it. And when I do, many times life teaches me again that if I manage to suck it up for one more second, one more day, one more small unit of time, something wonderful will happen. Something I thought would never happen. I’m always so close to it, even though I can’t see it.

Watercolor showing a young man wearing a hat with his hand over the shoulder of a tired young woman
“Hiking”. Watercolor by Maria Q. Stultz, Mar 1998.
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  1. On , Vivienne wrote:

    Beautiful, Mafe – both your art and the sentiment. :) May we all find friends and scenic vistas just three steps ahead.

  2. On , Maria wrote:

    May we all Vivienne… Thank you :)