Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Views from the Top

It’s funny the things you think about when you’re scaling the side of a mountain.

I’ll never forget the words of wisdom I repeated to myself as we were hiking the hardest day of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, way back in 2010. Feeling like we may never reach the 14,000-foot peak affectionately known as Dead Woman’s Pass, I decided it didn’t matter if I could make it to the top. All that mattered was that I could take one more step.

This mantra effectively got me to the top, and through many of life’s hurdles in the years that followed. A particularly stressful project. A really difficult workout. Whatever the challenge, I'd encourage myself not to worry about making it to the end. Just focus on taking one more step. As cliché as it sounds, the analogy for life has stuck with me.

Yesterday, while hiking in the mountains of Morocco’s Todra Gorge, I drew another comparison between hiking and life that I found meaningful…

Reece and I were on our own this time, working our way towards a summit where views of the sunset and surrounding mountains were reputed to be stunning. Problem was, there’s no clear trail or signs or anything to guide our way beyond the very subtle path left by nomads and donkeys that follow it into neighboring villages. If we scanned the distance, we could just make it out enough to keep going. But keep our heads down, wary of stumbling on rocks or stepping in donkey poop, and before long we’d find ourselves way off track. Several times I’d look up and realize “Dammit, we were supposed to go THAT WAY!”

Much like life. It’s easy to become consumed with what’s right in front of you, at the expense of your greater goals. Keep your head down and your eyes fixed on your immediate wants/needs/problems/fears, and you could easily lose sight of the path you intend to be on. So every once in a while, look up! Take stock of the world around you. Don’t neglect the big picture. Cause if you’re too caught up in a little pile donkey poop, you may never reach the summit.

Reece taking a detour. (Tiny, top right.)

Me trying to find our way. (Tiny, bottom right.)

It's windy at the top!

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