Mountains are great things. They are unique. They are serene and solemn and strong. They are spectacular, both from the bottom as you look forward and the top as you look back.
But a mountain is never easily mastered.
All of us have a mountain to climb on our journey of life. The shapes, sizes and gradients of each personal mountain may differ, but we are all going uphill to some degree. If you are a multi-millionaire it may appear you have conquered the successful life that most of us aspire to, but your wealth will be no safeguard against things not going to plan. It won’t prevent your daughter getting ill, or your son having an accident, or your husband or wife leaving you. Or you leaving them. Life will always be a step ahead. It will always find something to ensure we are never walking on the flat for very long.
Just as you finish certain climbs like passing your exams or getting a job or raising your children, others will appear in front of you like a difficult boss, a bad investment or a noisy neighbor. And eventually a steep section will appear that will just never go away, old age. No matter who we are, we are all climbing.
For many the gradients seem to be impossibly steep. They are faced with lives that are blighted by war or violence or hunger or poverty or floods or earthquakes. But the climb goes on. The only solution to the mountain is to keep going. Inch by inch. Day by day. The reward for your efforts is that the view will eventually change.
So the recognition and the acceptance that my mountain will always be there has been important to me. The analogy really stood to me for getting through a very difficult surgical recovery many years ago. It didn’t allow me to get fazed about reaching the summit. It ensured I just needed to tackle the climb that was put in front of me every day. That could have been a C.T. scan or the insertion of a tracheotomy or trying to walk for the first time again. I realized I could only climb the part of the mountain that I could put my foot on. That was all I needed to focus on. There was no point in worrying about next weeks climb, today.
That narrow mindset kept me very strong.
So as we begin the year it is a good time view our own mountain of 2016. We are all standing at the base. There is only one direction to go. The objective is to climb the stretch you see in front of you, every day, as best you can. With a mindset that is prepared to tackle whatever comes its way, no matter how steep. You just keep going.
And you climb in the knowledge that you will be climbing forever. The summit will never be reached. It is only there as a guide. It is almost an illusion. At the end your climb will be measured, not by how high you have reached, but by how well you have climbed.
So perhaps the best mission for this January is to be prepared to tackle, day by day, whatever is put in front of us. Climb what you see. And then use all of those individual climbs to eventually get yourself successfully back to base camp this time next year. Break the mountain into little strong pieces.
But even on completion there will still be no rest. You just steer yourself towards the 2017 mountain. And get ready to start climbing all over again!