The Mountain as a Metaphor

This past weekend, myself and a few close friends decided to do what I feel is one of the best ways to spend any weekend - Exploring the beauty of the Rocky Mountains.  

Our Saturday was spent cruising up the path toward the top of the Sulpher Skyline ridge where we were treated to the splendid view of both peaks and valleys.  We chatted and laughed, brainstormed and day dreamed along the entire hike before soaking in the Miette Hot Springs.  There's nothing quite like a steamy soak in natural spring water after a nice trek through beautiful mountains with good friends.  

Sunday was a little more of a grunt than Saturday.  The ascend of Pyramind Mountain requires a two-hour bike ride up an old fire road that takes you to the base of a scramble to the mountain's peak.  By time we reached the point where we hung your bikes in the trees safely from the rubber-hungry porcupines, my legs were definitely already on fire.  Then comes the push to the peak.  And that's when I started to see the big familiarity amongst the mountain and my life.  

Photo by Patrick Lalonde 

Photo by Patrick Lalonde 

We all have goals in our life.  And if you've ever been at the base of a mountain looking up towards the top, tracing the line that will take you there, then you know about the beauty and the challenges that come from setting a goal and achieving it.

On the morning of Sunday, October 5th, my friends and I had a goal in mind: To reach the top of Pyramid Mountain.  Much like any goal, we considered the risks, weighted out the challenges, prepared for the obstacles and imagined the benefits.  All necessary ingredients in reaching the pursuit of any goal.  Planning the trip portrays one very prominent quality of the mountain which relates to life; the value of momentum.  Everything begins as an idea, and an idea only begins to take form into our reality once we give it some sort of energy.  We touch the brush to the canvas, pen to paper, or place our foot on the pedal.  In that very moment we have already begun the pursuit of that thing that was once, not so long ago, nothing more than a thought in our minds. 

And so we begin, the more we move the more attainable the goal becomes.  Each revolution of the bicycle wheel or stroke of ink across the canvas is a another step forward.  And yet, sometimes we really need to stop.  Even with all that momentum, we are told by our body or our mind that we must take a break.  Which is okay, and sometimes completely necessary.  Because a break is actually a step towards reaching that goal.  Although you are no longer in motion, you are taking part in an activity that will help you to achieve what you are striving for.  We can sometimes so easily burn ourselves out once we have something in our heads.  It's important to listen to ourselves for the messages that tell us when to sprint and when to rest.  Reaching a goal involves moderation.  

So there I was, my legs heating up, each step more painful than the last.  Too many times I made the mistake of looking up at the peak which seemed to be moving away with each step.  So I sat on a rock and took a break.  A nice break is a time to look around.  To be grateful where you have gotten to so far.  It serves as a time to reflect on all the small victories you have already achieved along the way.  And to become aware of all the small challenges that are yet to come.  Stop and smell the roses, look at the sea of mountains that surround you.  Enjoy it but don't get too comfortable, there are many more steps to take...

Photo by Patrick Lalonde

Photo by Patrick Lalonde

One of my friends, Patrick, stands up from his rock and proclaims; "Each step gets us closer than the one before."  I nod and join him, two of our companions are far ahead, I think to myself that they were once standing where I am now, and the only way to get to where they are is to move my feet.

We scramble up the last stretch to the peak with legs that seem to be deflating at this point.  The thought of stopping has crossed my mind several times already.  That all too familiar feeling that comes with goal-setting:  The idea that you're somehow better off if you stop the pursuit.  The excuses pour through your mind as a way of softening the blow to your ego for the actual reality of what you are considering- Giving Up!  You have not yet achieved what you set out to do.  However you feel as if what you have done is quite enough, which in a way is true.  But you haven't done EXACTLY what you've wanted.  The thought has only partially manifested.  This is a critical point.  At this place in the journey you essentially have two choices - STOP or GO.  

So I push on.  Knowing with full faith that every step I take, no matter how difficult or how painful it may be, I am slowly moving towards the top of this mountain.  Gaining momentum with each step, I come to the grand realization that as long as I keep moving, I will get there. 

And as I stepped onto the peak of Pyramid Mountain I took in a big, refreshing, exhilarating breath of the freshest air that there is.  The top of any mountain is a very powerful place and the only way to experience the beauty of it is to get yourself there.  It's not so much the place as it is the fact that you brought yourself there.  Many steps have been taken, challenges overcome, mind-games battled, and then all of a sudden all of that seems so insignificant amongst the sense that you are as high as you can get on this mountain.  My friends and I turned an idea into action, literally standing amongst our own manifestations.  What in life is more glorious than that?

 Just like any goal we create for ourselves.  It's about the journey that takes us to that destination that really matters.  How hard you push yourself along the way, how well you overcome your own mind, and how gentle you treat yourself so that you can get to where you want to go.  On top of that mountain we are able to feel more free and more powerful than ever before.  Which is exactly why we are there.