As with any lesson I try to impart, let’s take a walk through a tale …
As a preface, I recently kicked off my hiking season with my earliest hike ever. Myself and a misfit crew of 7 others ventured out into the wilderness for a 15mile adventure far far from home.
Being in New England, there is this thing that happens each year. Most people call it hell, but those of us who enjoy the northern hemispheres simply call it “winter.”
During this phenomenon known as winter, if it’s cold enough, precipitation can turn into this menacing substance that in small quantities has the power to shut down entire southern cities.
We call it “snow.”
As a fun science fact, typically, as your altitude increases, the average outside air decreases.
Another fact? Mountains as we generally experience them are mostly above sea level and climb quite high in altitude.
You can see where this is going now.
It started off as you might expect, some snow some ice; nothing a sturdy pair of boots couldn’t handle. After climbing up, up, up, we encountered the inevitable declined travel and hit our first stand still. Our lead had encountered a section of down that could not be safely executed. The only problem was that he was already half way down.
Buh Buh Buh Buh! From my trusty pack, I produced a length of climbing rope which I quickly threw around a tree and secured with bowline knot. Rappelled down to him and got him back up to our level.
For the first time in many years of hiking, my ridiculous need to have basic survival gear with me in situations that ordinarily wouldn’t call for it paid off.
Foresight is your friend: Necessary or not. I am reminded of an age old mantra. It is better to have and not need than it is to need and not have. This can apply to many situations in life as well. Taking the time to practice foresight before undertaking an endeavor can help you avoid stress, mishap, and otherwise avoidable situations. Always stop and smell the roses.
As we continued on our journey, we began to climb up treacherous slopes covered in ice. This stretch of the mountain slowed our ascent quite a bit and proved very challenging. Through team work, and clever use of foot holds we were able to keep everyone moving up. After conquering the slopes we next found ourselves facing snowdrifts up to our thighs. By rotating the lead position, we were able to create foot falls for everyone in line helping to conserve the energy required to step and fall through the snow repeatedly.
The power of many is formidable: Like the pyramids and the many hands that built them, team work can make big problems into small obstacles and impossible tasks things of the past. Never overlook the power of many, and never be afraid to ask for help.
Finally, we reached the top. All 3,491 feet up. The view was a sublime vision of conquest, blood, and sweat. The kind of view that takes your breath away and puts life into perspective, showing you just how small you really are; just a blip amongst the land that had been shaped and altered through centuries, truly withstanding the test of time. It was a landscape that stretched on forever, allowing me to gaze further than ever before atop this giant.
Keep life in perspective: Often times we get caught up in the hustle and bustle of this rat race known as life. If we don’t stop to appreciate the beauty of the things around us, they will slip away. Think, feel, observe, and live.
“The unexamined life is not worth living.” – Socrates
Though the journey was grueling, and probably an endeavor none of us had any business undertaking, we made it to the top, sharing great memories, commiserating, and ultimately accomplishing something grand (even though we had no choice but to finish.)
The beer tasted a little sweeter, the friendships meant a little more, and life was just a bit richer for the experience.
The take away here…
Take time to plan, even if it’s only sometimes.
Lean on a friend in times of need, and in turn, be there for someone in theirs.
Don’t take life too seriously, and make sure you take the time to appreciate the little things before you miss the opportunity.
And last but not least, invest in a pair of wool socks. They just may save your life someday, or at least keep your feet warm, even when soaking wet and in a foot of snow.
My friends, say “yes” to life, and get busy living.