Man Vs. Mountain - Part 2/3
Although the mountain this 3-part blog is about was a journey I experienced months ago, I am now writing this installment once again surrounded by beautiful mountains in the heart of BC (for my American friends, it’s on the left side of Canada). Anyways, enjoy part 2!
Man Vs. Mountain - Part 2
Running up and down the mountain became a tremendously exhilarating experience! Continually besting my distance, speed, and time was so energizing.
However, at one point, I decided I wanted to experience the mountain in a new and different way.
I wanted to stand on top of it.
So, I took a day to drive up as far as the road would carry me and then continue on foot along whatever paths and obstacles might lead me to my goal.
I quickly found a path and began to follow it. The path was fairly wide and easy to follow at first. The journey was going smoothly. But then, something happened.
I arrived at a junction. The singular path I was on split into two very unique paths that went in different directions. I couldn’t see very far down each path and had absolutely no idea which one would lead me more quickly to my ultimate goal… the summit. For all I knew, one of them might have a secret elevator around the first curve, or one of them might lead me right into a hungry bear’s den.
But I had to choose.
In my blissful ignorance, I chose the one that looked more interesting. And I kept climbing.
As I continued to walk, I found that it was not only the path itself that offered options and choices, but my own wandering heart and mind.
“Oooh, look at this awesome rock wall! I bet I could climb that.”
I actually even found a random grave where someone had been buried. Kind of cool… kind of creepy (You can let me know which one you think it is in the comments).
This trip was anything but clear and straightforward.
As I got higher, the path that I would travel on became less straight and lost its definition in its blend of dirt, rocks, plants, and water.
After much walking, I found myself at many points thinking to myself, “just over this next crest and I’ll be at the top.”
But one thing I discovered about mountains that day, is that when you walk up them, the “summit” is much less defined than how we envision it. No matter how high I climbed, I could always look around to find a way to go higher. Regardless of how far I had come, there was inevitably further to go.
And even as I came close to a sort of peak, I could look in multiple directions and see higher peaks.
Reaching the “top” was a simplistic notion that my mind held about a complex journey.
As much as the lesson the mountain taught me about perseverance (see part 1) was indescribably valuable, the revelation it offered me through this experience was what I truly needed at this season in life.
Over the past year I had been sensing that my life was about to change directions and that I was headed somewhere new. I was pretty sure that I would be switching jobs and likely moving my family to a new community. And as soon as this became an apparent reality, I wanted to do everything I could to figure out where we were headed and get there.
I wanted to fast track to the summit of this journey.
But this mountain challenged me to change my perspective. You see, as I had been so laser-focused on reaching the “top” of the mountain, I undervalued the truly unique and fascinating trek I had been on this whole time.
I had seen incredible sights, climbed cool rock faces, made interesting discoveries, and been refreshed by the fresh mountain air. What a shame to miss out on this. One thing that was so interesting was the evolution of the path as I climbed. At first, it was broad and basic, but as I ascended, it became limited and laborious.
In fact, during the final stretch, the path was quite narrow and rocky, and had a quaint stream flowing right down the center of it. It was truly breathtaking. (It was around this height that I realized I had not considered packing any bear spray or the like… oh well, I clearly survived).
It was during this final stretch that I remembered two poignant quotes from my favorite book:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart… and he will make your paths straight.” - Proverbs 3:5-6
“He leads me beside quiet waters.” - Psalm 23:2
Focusing on the top was a distraction from the path that I was provided to walk along. Thinking only of the end would certainly rob me of the beautiful creek that I was walking along.
The reality is that the past year and a half has been by far one of the most challenging stretches of this expedition we call life that Talasi and I have been on.
It has hurt.
The paths have felt very uncertain.
And at many points, all I wanted was to finish the climb and find the top. But when my focus would drift in such a way, I would forget to observe the gifts that I had been given along the way.
It’s easy to lose focus and forget that no matter what we are walking through, no matter what might come our way, there is great beauty in the journey.
Despite the immense challenges of this grueling hike, I have learned so much. I am better off and am stronger than I was before.
I’ve learned to stop yearning for the summit.
I’ve learned to be grateful for the straight path.
I’ve learned to enjoy the quiet waters.