Within our Wisdom Note today, let us consider that each day of life is an opportunity to learn if we are receptive to its lessons. As we head out on our trek up the mountain today, we will learn life lessons from hiking through the mountains.
Let’s imagine in our minds that we have just arrived in Seattle, Washington, in preparation for an expedition of mountain climbing. Set behind the Seattle skyline, standing elegantly at 14,411 feet is Mount Rainer, which can humble even the most experienced climbers. Our guide for our expedition has promised us an unforgettable adventure on Mount Rainer. We first hike to Camp Muir, the main base camp at 10,080 feet. From there we start the difficult part of the hike to the summit of Mount Rainer.
The lessons from this experience are extremely relevant to our everyday life. Here are several key takeaways.
1. Preparation can mean life or death.
If you were to actually take this trek, your journey would start long before your boots hit the dirt with careful consideration of every foreseeable scenario. As with your life plan, you want to have a plan for the various scenarios that you may encounter. Don’t just plan for the best case scenario. Plan for everything that could go wrong too. The moment you’re forced into survival situations, whether that is financial, health, relational, or otherwise, is not the right time to start developing a plan to get through it.
2. Pace yourself.
With all of the adrenaline and excitement of hitting a trailhead, it’s common for hikers to push too hard at the beginning and burn out during the climb. As you go through life, you need to keep your emotions in check, pace yourself, and maintain a steady pace. This will allow you to conserve emotional, financial, and spiritual resources that will be needed to tackle the difficult terrains of life as you encounter them.
3. Just keep moving.
There will be times in mountain climbing and in life when it doesn’t seem worth it. No one said it’d be easy. Remember that momentum is important. When you stop on a mountain above snow level, it doesn’t take long for the cold to set in. In the same manner, stopping for too long when life’s difficulties set in can make it very difficult to start again. When you’re tired, just put one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward.
4. Take care of yourself.
You will not be able to reach your end goal if you do not take care of yourself. There’s a rule on the mountain that if you become thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. Treat dehydration in life by not letting it happen in the first place. Take care of yourself and take the time to be replenished through times of rest and relaxation along the way of your life trek.
5. Everything looks closer than it is.
I am told that you get a real sense of just how big Mount Rainier is as you’re approaching Camp Muir. As you reach the final snowfield and the base camp comes into sight, it looks like you’re just minutes away from relief, but anyone who’s made this climb can attest that it’s an illusion. From first sight, the base camp is still about an hour away. In the same manner, don’t underestimate the magnitude of your life goals and how long it will take to get there. Everything takes longer (and costs more) than you’d expect. Be prepared spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and financially.
6. Don’t underestimate the little things.
Surprisingly, of the 400+ fatalities reported on Mount Rainier, only about a quarter of those deaths occurred near the summit. Most fatalities and injuries occur in the seemingly safe terrain well below the base camp. Pay attention to the little things in life and business as they may be more dangerous than you realize. Stay alert and be prepared for unforeseen challenges. They will arise; that is what life is made of. The least you can do is avoid being surprised when they occur.
7. Let others help you.
While climbing may not seem like a team sport, it is. It is the same with any pursuit in life. It’s not in my nature to let other people take care of me, but when you are at the end of your strength spiritually, emotionally, and financially, you do need help from others on this trek of life. Most of us tend to be self-sufficient, but there will be times when you will need help. And you should ask for it and be willing to accept it.
8. Create milestones and re-evaluate your path.
Setting milestones and checkpoints allow you to reassess your situation and revise your plan through different seasons of life. Your destination will probably not change, but your trail can be modified based on your current situation and what you have learned and experienced on the previous segment of your journey.
9. Trust yourself with cautious optimism.
Life’s journey and the path are not always clear. Many times we can only see a few feet in front of us. Don’t over-analyze every situation. Overthinking will usually cause more harm than good. You need to have faith that there is a solid path forward. Have enough confidence in God and yourself to know that you can handle any terrain in front of you, and be cautious enough that you can quickly turn or stop should an obstacle arise.
When you push hard to reach certain plateaus in life, you may find yourself exhausted – spiritually, physically, emotionally, and mentally. You may even wonder at times why you put yourself through these rough terrains of life. As you reflect on the results and the rewards, it won’t be long before you are making more plans for your future.
You really have to know the “why” of your purpose in life and live for the legacy that you wish to leave each day. It is then that the trek becomes worthwhile, regardless of how rough the terrain of life becomes. Not everyone will pursue their purpose in life with such determination. Some have no interest, and others lack the discipline.
The best views in life are the hardest to get to, and I truly believe that is by design. Most people will never experience them. It’s up to you to decide whether you view, your purpose and the impact that you can make on others is worth making the climb.
As it tells us in Galatians 6:9, “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”