Monday, November 2, 2015
TOUGH LOVE...A LESSON FROM A MOUNTAIN
I do not consider myself to be an accomplished backpacker. In the great scheme of things, the miles I've put behind me are few. I go out once a year and spend a week "living" in the woods, enjoying everything such an experience has to offer me...both good and bad. There are many who probably think, "What kind of a vacation is that?" For me, the answer is simple: when I set foot on the trail, I leave the noise of "reality" behind me. Instead of those mundane moments that rarely differ from one another, I never really know what lies ahead for me...what challenges I'll have to face...what fears I'll have to conquer...or even what breathtaking views might be hiding around the next bend in the trail. The mountain does not judge or make fun of me when I take something that should be so simple and make it into something hard for me. If I'm afraid, the mountain keeps my secret. If I feel like standing on the mountain top, screaming, jumping up and down, I could...if I wanted to. The mountain takes me as I am. It accepts me, weaknesses and all and gives me one opportunity after another to prove to myself just what I'm made of. That's the key....the only person I have anything to prove to is me. The mountain doesn't feel sorry for me...doesn't feel bad when it's pushed me to the brink of exhaustion when I still have miles to go before I can stop. It's always there to cheer me on...whether it be through a bird singing its song loudly or a little chipmunk scurrying past, its cheeks full of nuts. It's always there to give me my share of hard times as well: a yellow jacket nest right in the center of the trail or a patch of slippery rocks or boulders that I'm forced to traverse. In short, the mountain brings with it the entire package: challenges and hardships coupled with unconditional acceptance of your personal best, whatever level that might be. I speak of a mountain as if it were a living, breathing entity...because it is all of that and more. I cannot complain about what life has handed me. In fact, I consider myself to be extremely blessed. But the one thing the mountain offers me that I don't feel I find every day is that feeling of accepted as I am, not as how others think I should be...when I leave the mountains, I feel like I've truly accomplished something. So yes...a mountain gives you a lesson in "tough love" but the rewards are given back tenfold because all you really have to do is be you...be who you are...do what you can...challenge yourself...and hopefully walk away knowing you did your very best. There is no such thing as "failure" out on the trail...it's more like, "Next time...till we meet again."