05 November, 2008

The Mountain of Life: The Tenacity to Ride a Rough Road.

Many analogies exist in regards to life and people.  The one that I tend to gravitate toward is comparing life to a mountain.  Perhaps this is because I grew up at 7000 feet above sea level in the foot hills of the Great Rocky Mountains?  I m not sure, but the analogy works. 


Life is a mountain.  It is high with cliffs and valleys that must be crossed before reaching the summit.  And the goal, for many, is to reach that summit. 


The people are at the bottom of the mountain.  Each will approach differently.  Some camp at the bottom, never attempting to reach the top.  Others hike a little and camp a little on their journey.  Sometimes they stop somewhere along the path, settle in, and build a community.  Still others climb.  They endure the harsh weather and terain.  They may camp at times to rest, but in the end, they continue with their journey.  They are tenacious. 


I have known the people who camp.  They are perfectly content finding a place in the foothills, setting up their tent, building a cabin, and settling in for the long haul. 


I have known people who climb and become tired and worn out.  They return to base camp for so many reasons.  Perhaps they are tired, or perhaps they find themselves afraid of what lies ahead. 


Sometimes I wonder where I fit into the analogy. 


For the most part, I am headed up that mountain.  Come hell or high water, I am not only going to make it to the summit but I am going to enjoy the journey!  There will be laughter and a song on my lips the moment I arrive.  (And you can take that to the bank!)




There are definitely times when I note the terrain.  The weather conditions are a bit harsh, rocks are a bit ragged, and that cliff… well, we won’t even talk about that cliff that looms ahead!


At these times I stop.  I pitch my tent, build a fire, make smores and enjoy the plateau or the valley.  When I find myself kicking myself for not moving forward, right now, at top speed, I remember all the reasons I stopped at this point.  It is important to enjoy the valleys and the plateaus and the mesas while we can.  I know that when the time is right (and I will know when it is right) I will pack my bags and return to the climb.  That cliff will still be daunting, but it will be manageable. 


My life has been lived in this light.  The rough roads, the challenges, the intense and variable weather patterns have never fazed me.  Sure, times are tough and challenges arise, but I firmly believe that we have the strength to overcome anything and everything that we encounter.    


And I sound like a Pollyanna, don’t I!


But life isn’t easy for me or for anyone else. 


Picture it, 1999, a young woman with a great body (oh and a great mind and sense of humor thank you very much) finds herself pregnant.  The man in the picture freaks out for very good reasons.  The future grandmother in the picture freaks out as well.  So the young woman is pretty much on her own in so many ways.  Foregoing her professional dreams, she moves to the Midwest where she knows no one (I tend to move to places where I know no one and don’t speak the language).  She knows that the Midwest is the perfect place to be a single parent.  Or at least, that is what she thought until, after enduring a month of -40 windchills, this young woman finds herself jobless due to a lay-off.


So there she is – single, visually impared, a mother, and very little child support.  Luckily the future grandmother came around once she realized that adoption was not in the picture… she had to face the reality that her daughter was going to be a single mother whether she liked it or not. 


For this young woman, returning to live with her parents and her family was not an option.  She had to pack the bags (crib and all) and move up that cliff at top speed.  No looking back.  It was her, the cliff, and the next phase of her trip up the mountain.  As she scaled that rock, she found herself leaving behind anger, resentment, and fear.  They were much too heavy to carry.


I am sure that we can all guess what happens next…


No, the knight with a Hum-V does not drive up to save the day and transport her to the summit.  (Now wouldn’t that be nice)


But she reaches the next valley.  She finds fresh water, a gentle slope, and friendly people with whom she can walk and journey for a while.  For her, for a while, the trail is gentle switch backs and only mild climbs.  It is highly green and scenic.  Don’t get me wrong, there are streams and rivers and water falls, there are ice storms and tropical storms and tornado warnings aplenty, but for right now, the journey is gentle.  The pack is light. 


Will rough patches appear in the future?  Again, no doubt about it.  For me, like the woman in the story, there are always challenges that arise in expected and unexpected places.  But like the woman above, I know that I have what it takes to get through the rough parts to the valleys.  Like her, I know that while walking through the valleys and up the gentle slopes, there is time to accept the lessons learned during the more intense climbs. 


As in everything, in my life there is a time for climbing and a time for camping.  There are times with the road is smooth and clear and then, there are those times, when the road is rough.  Regardless of the circumstances, there is something within me that keeps me traveling.  I just know that the view of the tip top of that mountain is going to be spectacular – that much more so because of the journey traveled. 



liz said...

Great post, TE!

I think taking time to enjoy the valleys, the plateaus and the scenery, while still focused on the summit, is what life is about. And you're right...in the less arduous times, we can reflect on what successfully brought us this far, what obstacles we overcame and how we can apply those lessons to our continued climb.

I hope that in the twilight of my life, I am back in one of those valleys, on the far side of the summit, gazing back up with peace. And if there's a campfire, smores, good bottle of pino and arms wrapped around me at the end of the night, all the better.

T said...

I love this post! Such a wonderful analogy of life and all that we go through. You, my friend, are definitely one that makes the most of things... whether climbing or camping.

Its one of the reasons I dig you. You inspire me.

Keep on climbing (or camping)... I agree. The only way is UP!

Scotty said...

I liked this :)

dadshouse said...

I like the climbing and camping analogy. Question: what's at the summit we're all climbing for?

I reached the summit of my high tech career only to find it wasn't what I thought it would be. It didn't bring me any of the things I expected it would. I realized I needed to just be. We are human beings, not human doings.

Of course, part of being is climbing and camping. But I now know there's nothing at the summit.

justrun said...

I think one of the miracles of this is that we learn when to do both.
Great story, and good for you!

The Exception said...

Liz - I love all parts of the journey. Each has something to offer if we can find it.

T - You are great too!! Thanks!

DH - perhaps the summit is subjective meaning something different for each.

JR - Yes, being able to do both... being able to look back and see the lessons learned and the gifts of the journey... amazing!

cathouse teri said...

Love the analogy! You're sumthin else, babe.

I know it's smarmy, but these lyrics are from a song I absolutely adore. Much better when HEARD, but here are some of the simple words:

I've been around and I've noticed that
Walkin's easy when the road is flat
Them danged ole hills get you every time.
Yeah, the good Lord gave us mountains
So we could learn how to climb.