Don’t stop because you are tired. Keep going because you are almost there.” – Anonymous
I leaned against the parked car, coffee in hand, speechless by the majesty of the peaks. Just to the west, the hiking that enticed us to this spot awaited: Maroon Bells.
Shortly after graduating college, two of my friends and I drove through the night to the Maroon Bells.
The Bells are the most photographed mountains in Colorado. They are brilliantly colored. And we were going to climb them.
Or so we thought.
We grabbed our packs and ventured toward the trail head.
A few minutes of walking and I was already winded. But we continued, walking on an incline between trees and over streams.
The air got colder; the oxygen thinner.
Then, snow began to gently fall. We continued.
My breathing became even more labored. Although it was cold, I was soaked in sweat. My motivation to make it to the top drove me forward. Not to mention the gentle undercurrent of peer pressure.
My chest throbbed. My feet kept moving.
Several times I asked my buddies to take a break. They’d reply, “Come on, O’Leary, the mountain is just over the next little hill. Let’s get there and then we’ll catch our breath.”
Well, we’d get over the next hill and it wasn’t right there. So the journey continued.
Finally, there was a clearing. Michael and Allen made it first.
They looked at each other. Then back at me.
Smiled and said, “Oh man, you aren’t going to believe it!”
Each step was agonizing. My chest pounded. But when you know the WHY you can endure any HOW.
Michael came back a few steps from the opening, reached down, grabbed my arm, and pulled me up the last few steps.
Soaked with sweat. Out of breath. Out of energy.
We were at the mountains. Now the good stuff was about to start.
I pushed back a branch, took the final step into the clearing, and looked. There they were. The mighty Maroon Bells. Their three massive peaks were kissing the heavens.
And then it hit me: they looked no closer than when we had begun our journey hours ago.
All the hiking. All the sweat. All the toil.
And we’d made no freaking discernible progress!
Allen looked at me and said, “Alright! Let’s head back to the car and get some lunch!”
Before heading back down, I took one more look toward those mountains. It simply amazed me that we had gone so far, walked so long, and made so little progress.
Mountaineers refer to this common occurrence as a “False Summit.” On a mountain, this psychological let down can be deadly.
And yet, this is an experience you’ve likely had even if you’ve never set foot on a mountain.
Ah, finally done with the laundry! (Then you realize the kitchen is a mess.)
Yes, finally finished college! (Then you realize you’re $100,000 in debt and need a job.)
So often the successful completion of one goal leads to innumerable others that expand before you.
My friends, to keep stepping forward in life we need a mighty vision; one worthy of stretching toward. To keep advancing upward requires a vision so meaningful we continue even when things get painful. To keep climbing onward demands that we know our work, our lives, our next step matters profoundly. And to keep ascending we must choose to see possibilities as we climb.
But rather than being disappointed when we experience a false summit, we must choose to realize it was never about getting to the top, it was always about enjoying the journey toward it. [Tweet this.] | [Share on Facebook]
This is your day to climb forward in your life, to fall, to get back up, to look up at what’s possible and to enjoy the journey toward it
This is your day. Live inspired.
Was there a time in your life that you experienced a false peak? What did you learn from that experience. Please share in the comments below.