Back in the day, when I spent my summers as a backpacking guide, we would give a little talk at the end of the trip that went something like this: Everyone loves the mountaintop - it's awe-inspiring and amazing. And while we wish that we could stay on the mountaintop forever, the truth is that life is not meant to be lived up there, nothing grows on the mountaintop. Life is meant to be lived in the valley. But the beauty of the mountain top is that it offers a view and a perspective of the land down below that can often get lost when you're traipsing through the valley.
These last 4 months as I've trained for the Imogene Pass Run, I've spent a good deal of time on and around mountain tops. My two little feet have taken me up to some of the most beautiful peaks and ridges this state has to offer. But no matter how breathtaking it is up there, I always know that at some point, I need to head back down and re-enter my everyday life. Though before I descend, I take a moment to pause, to take it all in, to notice the winding creeks, the fields of wild flowers, the switchbacking roads and the old structures that dot the landscape below - things I can't see when I'm in the trees. And I look out around me in every direction, attempting to get my bearings, noting the mountain ranges to the north, south, east, and west. I get perspective. And when I make my way down, I have a little better sense of the features unique to that mountain and where it sits relative to everything around it.
Similarly, these last four months "on the mountaintop" have offered me some perspective on my day to day existence, on who I am at the ripe old age of 41, on what I hope for my life to be about, and on the current state of the landscape that surrounds me everyday. I've been given a more clear understanding of each of my kids and their unique personalities and needs. This has motivated me to want to hunker down with them and press in, with the realization that these formative years are flying by. The mountaintop has brought definition to both my personal and professional goals. And it has given me a greater appreciation for the beauty and richness in my everyday life, my marriage, and my friendships.
Sometimes I think we get so lost in the frenzy of our daily lives that it's easy to lose perspective, forgetting where we are, where we've been, and where we're going. The busyness and daily demands may blind us to the beauty that's existing all around us. The noise of the critics, the cry of the insecurities, and the shouts of the unimportant can drown out the sounds of the quiet whisper, calling us to live and love more fully. And perhaps more bravely too. While life is meant to be lived in the valley, I think we also need those mountaintop experiences to gain perspective, a perspective that we can take back down the mountain, allowing it inform our everyday lives.
What have your mountaintop experiences taught you? How has your perspective changed from stepping outside of your everyday life?
In addition to perspective, there are 6 other lessons I'm taking with me down from the mountain and I'd like to share one each day leading up to the race next Saturday, so stay tuned!