There are a lot of things that happen when you climb to the summit of a mountain. I want to share what I believe to be the three most important things that happen.
The first was a lesson I learnt as a child, to be more specific, a lesson a learnt from a movie as a child. That movie being none other than Disney’s world class, “The Lion King”. It’s strange how a movie filled with life, love, betrayal, discovering yourself, stepping into your own, claiming your destiny, friends and family and all the other lessons that tend to be associated with Disney movies, didn’t ring true to me with any of those scenes. The scene I’m speaking about isn’t even the noteworthy “Death of Mufasa” scene which throws the movie into its climax direction. The scene that rang home for me, is the scene when Mufasa brings Simba up on a peak of Pride Rock, and tells him “Everything the light touches is our Kingdom.” This scene could not have said more to me, had Mufasa said it to me himself. “Everything the light touches is our Kingdom.” A lesson and a moment that could only be experienced from the summit. Derrik Rose, NBA Player, says it best, the number one job of anybody in charge of the guidance of a child is to pick them up, because picking them up changes there view, changes their perspective, shares with them a little of your world. That’s what the summit does, it changes our perspective, shows how grand the world is, but how small it is, all at the same time. It is said that astronauts when they look back on the earth from space, they forget boundaries, they forget politics, they forget all the little things that divide, because on high, you can see all the great wonders that exist in a single moment, even if you can’t see all their minute details.
The second thing that happens when you climb up to the summit, is you get to see where you are. Now I don’t mean geographically, or even physically. Very often when we look up at a mountain, we think to ourselves, “WOW it must be amazing at the top” and for those who do the climb or hike it tends to be just that, truly amazing. But what also happens is you get the opportunity to see all the other summits around you, those higher, lower, far away and rather near. This is what I’m referring to when I say, you get to know where you are. In the valley, and on the trail you think “this is it, this is as good as it gets, there is nothing greater than this challenge in front of me” and you set out to conquer, and conquer you shall. Upon reaching the top though, very often, you realize how much higher there is to go, how much further you can travel, how many more valleys you have to walk through just to get to what you believe to be the highest summit. You get an opportunity to check yourself. As Philosopher Nietzsche said, “When you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares into you” This couldn’t be any truer than when one looks out from the summit.
Thirdly is the journey itself. I’ve made reference to one kid’s movie already so now to a cartoon. The cartoon is called “Samurai Jack” and was broadcasted on Cartoon Network many years ago. The premise of the cartoon is an ancient samurai is flung into the far future by an evil sorcerer named Aku. In this future Aku has become law and god, and all who oppose him must pay the price. Samurai Jack is searching for a way to return to his past when he comes across three travelling wise men, who tell him that at the top of a great mountain there is a power that can grant all things, and that they have set out to reach the peak. Jack decides to travel with the wise men and ascend the mountain. However the task proves more daunting than Jack initially thought. He must bear the brunt of the climb, along with snow, chill, gale force winds, hunger, thirst and to top it off, the further up the mountain he goes and the more exhausted he becomes, he encounters new, more powerful opponents. Much like “The Lion King” did for me, many years before, this episode stuck with me as if etched into my brain. I realized how similar this episode was to life, everything we wanted there was a lot to press through to get, and not just developing the ability to press through but we would encounter enemies along the way as well. Not to mention just like Jack the further up we climbed the more powerful the enemies became. After the third major battle Jack collapses in the snow on the side of the mountain staring up at the clouds blocking the summit, and says to himself, “It Is Impossible” Sound familiar? That’s when things change, on reflection he remembered why he was doing what he was doing and with that resolve he pressed on up and through the clouds and low and behold there was the summit before him. Unfortunately no magic power was to be found, but much like life Jack became a new person, more focused, stronger, and grateful. Mountains have that ability, not just to change our perspective, or show us where we are, but the journey up the mountain transforms us from who we were to who we become.
Now my challenge to you, take a moment and from your valley of the mind, stare up at the mountain you want to conquer, imagine all that awaits you at the top. It is time to begin your climb, to change your perspective, to know exactly where you are, and to step (or climb) into who you truly are.