In non-Covid times, my brother and I would go on an annual Appalachian Trail hike. The beautiful views, camaraderie and reconnection with nature were all good reasons to embark on the hike. One very good reason not to go is the first mile of the hike. It is almost all directly uphill that slopes at 25-45% degrees. It is the hardest part of the hike and it is right at the beginning. Once you get to the top, the world opens up in front of you and you can see for miles into Pennsylvania and New York State. It is truly magnificent! The remainder of the 20+ mile hike is far from easy but it is lined with intermittent views that consistently leave you in awe. The bulk of the price that is paid for those views upfront.
This is a concept that is peppered throughout our lives. Many of the rewards that we are looking for are hidden at the tops of steep climbs. From the bottom, it is impossible to see what the effort will produce for you. However it is plain to see the struggle, difficulty and labor in front of you. So most people don’t start climbing. Having been up that mountain several times, I know the payoff that is coming. In many of the situations that we encounter in life, the payoff is less than guaranteed. The secondary problem is that those endeavors also usually require something that you’ve never done before. This is again will stop many people before they start.
The things that can’t be seen before the start are all of the reasons to begin. The possible rewards are surely something. More importantly is the person that you become at the end of that path. While it’s easy to view ourselves as static individuals, we aren’t. You are a totally different person than you were five, ten, fifteen years ago. Keeping that in mind is crucial. Who will you be five years from now based on deciding to “ascend” or not? There is no doubt that either way, you will still be you. However the paths that you choose will impact what version of yourself shows up. Don’t just look up the mountain and see the climb. See yourself on top and envision how much more of your best self will be available from there.
See you at the top!