Tomorrow is the day we climb Baldy Mountain - all 14,441 feet of it. Being the youngest, at only 14 years old, on my 12-day Boy Scout backpacking crew, I have a lot to prove. I want to show that I can keep up with the older guys.
My friends arrived. It was a new group; I’d never hung out with some of them before, and some of them were very immature. The whole time I had my friends over they were messing around, and it made me aggravated. I just wanted to go to bed. As 4:00AM approached, I was still up, and the boys were throwing stuff at each other. One of my friends threw a charger block; the kid then got it and threw it back, but it hit me. I got hit right in the eye. Despite the blood, my friends told me to just sleep it off.
Waking up the next morning, I knew it was the day to climb the mountaIn. I was the first one ready because I prepared everything the night before. We started hiking around 6:00AM. The first mile or so was gradual increase; nothing I couldn't handle. We stopped at 7:30 to eat breakfast. We were about a quarter to the top, and the mountain was about to become much steeper.
The pain in my eye kept me awake. In the morning I told my parents the story, and they rushed me to the hospital. Was I going to go blind? Will I ever be able to play baseball again? I was at the hospital all day, but the doctors couldn’t diagnose me. All they gave me were eyedrops. The future was uncertain.
The sun grew hotter, and the mountain grew steeper. I could see the top, but it seemed miles away. We had been hiking for two hours but it felt like eight. With so much left to climb, would I even make it? Was I strong enough?
I stayed home every day taking eye drops 12 times a day. I couldn't watch television or go on my phone because it would strain my eye. Eventually, I was diagnosed with 360 degree angle recession, which basically means fluid can't drain from my eye. I couldn't hang out with my friends and going to school was a challenge. The doctor gave an eye patch to wear, which embarrassed me. All I wanted to do was play baseball, but I had to wait a month. My perspective on life changed. I had to see the world in a new point of view. I had to see it through sunglasses and masks. Every time I played baseball I had to protect it.
I could see the mountaintop in the distance. The trek leader said we had an hour left. The last push was all loose rock. I had to hold the ground for support and my crew helped me balance as I slipped.
My right eye is now permanently dilated, and I struggled to get to the player I was before. I will never forget my first game back. I was back starting at shortstop. Batting in the 6th inning with a man on third in a tie game, I hit a single to right, which gave us the lead. My eye couldn’t stop me.
I gazed around me and took in the awe-inspiring New Mexico scenery from the top of Baldy Mountain. The four-hour hike was physically and mentally exhausting, but when I reached the top, I knew I could do anything. Life's a climb, but getting to the top of the mountain makes it worth it.
I overcame the change, but not the eye injury. Life will throw obstacles at you, but it's not how you get hit. It's about finding it in yourself to to keep going forward.