Are Mountains Worth Climbing?

I know I said I was going to do a few more horror posts for Halloween, but I’ve changed my mind. I just got back from a week-long camping trip, and my thoughts are still lingering that way.

For the second time in my life, I found myself in this situation:

1.) Me plus my travel companion (first my BFF, this time Hub-a-dub) on what’s supposed to be an enjoyable vacation.
2.) We find a small road going up a mountain (first in Colorado, this time in Arkansas) and begin climbing (first through the snow, this time through rocks and dust).
3.) Soon, the road becomes unnavigable – or nearly so.
4.) I urge my partner to keep going just a little bit further ahead (first to reach a known destination at an unknown distance, this time to see what’s at the top of the road).
5.) We continue a bit, and my companion stops having fun.
6.) Seeing this, I tell them to wait for me, and I trudge ahead on my own.
7.) I refuse to give up.
8.) I am eventually forced to turn back (first by an avalanche blocking the road, this time by a time constraint of when I had to start coming back so Hub-a-dub would know I was okay).

What I should probably get out of this startling similar repeat is a lesson about stubbornness. I’ve frequently accused my mother-in-law of being the most stubborn person on Earth, but I’m pretty sure it’s actually me. (Sorry, Mom-in-law.) But I’m not thinking about that particular aspect of things today because, well, I don’t want to. Ha! Instead, I’m thinking about the mountains themselves, and the journey up them.

You know I’m about to get metaphorical with this shit. Of course, for me, my mind goes instantly to writing and publishing, but there are all sorts of goals in life – and all goals worth striving for have obstacles you have to overcome.

The thing about climbing mountains, at least new mountains, is that you’re never quite sure exactly what you’ll get once you reach the peak. You have an idea, yeah. Maybe breathtaking beauty, sweeping views, fresher air. But until you get up there, you can’t really know if it’ll be worth the climb.

And as much as the happy, positive part of me wants to assure you that it’s always worth the climb… sometimes it isn’t. I know this because there were instances besides the two above where I did actually get to the top of where I wanted to go. Sometimes you’re expecting heart-filling, gut-stirring, breath-stealing newness and all you get is an, “Oh. Well… that’s pretty,” before you decide to head back down.

And sometimes it’s even more than you could have hoped for. Sometimes the reward is tenfold. There are mountains, rest assured, that can change you. Change your life. Change your soul. And you can’t know which ones they will be until you climb them.

Some people are content to climb half-way to get the view. And despite what society might tell you, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. There are many types of people in this world, and not all of them can be as stubborn as me and Mom-in-law. (Hey, someone’s got to know how to compromise.) And some of the time – perhaps most of the time – those people are smarter. How often is the view from half way up as good as the view from the peak? Pretty often, actually. Scenery doesn’t change that much in a few thousand feet. Sometimes half way is just as good as all the way.

Sometimes. That’s the word that drives me to climb these mountains. “Sometimes.”

Because other times the climb makes the difference. Other times the view is worth the blisters, the sunburn, the cold toes, the aching shins, the dry thirstiness and pounding head. Other times the view can absolutely change your life. And that’s worth the journey, don’t you think?

But you’ll never know what’s waiting for you at the top if you don’t make the climb.

Maybe stubbornness isn’t such a bad trait after all.

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  • Caitlin Cunningham

    I still regret not continuing on with you up that mountain.

    • Aw, don’t regret that! I only went on a bit before the path was blocked anyway, so you really didn’t miss anything. If there hadn’t been an avalanche, maybe, but there was. So no regrets. I still love that memory of us tromping through the snow in our completely inadequate shoes. =)

  • I don’t need to reach the top to love climbing mountains. I prefer to explore, to find and forage. I’m not so much a scenic-view kind of person (crazy, I know!), and far more of a “look at this pretty rock I found!” kind of lady. 😉 So climbing things is awesome. I usually give the view a cursory glance. Then I go back to scouring the ground and trees and bushes for animals and exciting plants and unique stones. The whole journey is the exciting part. The only reason to make it all the way to the top is to make sure I’ve checked for good things. 😀

    ~Ashlee
    http://ashleesch.com
    http://theDragonsHoard.bigcartel.com

    • I think that’s lovely! Both literally and metaphorically, enjoying the journey is just as noble as reaching a destination. Good for you, Ashlee.

  • Love this! I have to say I’d be in the “stubborn boat” right along with you. I think it’s the bragging rights of wanting to do something, going for it, and then saying that you did it. I SO get the let-down of it not being all that you hoped it would be though, lol!

    The most frustrating thing I’ve found is that, from experience, the most exquisite “views” I’ve found in life were the ones that happened by complete chance. You can’t plan them, and you don’t even know they’re coming. It’s like the universe has just given you a gift and you didn’t even know it was your birthday.

    Maybe that’s another reason we stubborn ones go chasing after the impossible?

  • Love this! I have to say I’d be in the “stubborn boat” right along with you. I think it’s the bragging rights of wanting to do something, going for it, and then saying that you did it. I SO get the let-down of it not being all that you hoped it would be though, lol!

    The most frustrating thing I’ve found is that, from experience, the most exquisite “views” I’ve found in life were the ones that happened by complete chance. You can’t plan them, and you don’t even know they’re coming. It’s like the universe has just given you a gift and you didn’t even know it was your birthday.

    Maybe that’s another reason we stubborn ones go chasing after the impossible?

    • You’re right about the best views being by chance. And maybe that is why we go chasing the impossible. I like to have control over things, dang it. Screw surprises. I like plans. 😉

  • Trudie

    Well, you already know how I feel about this! If I can’t finish what I start, I better not start at all, which is what usually happens. The anxiety of not finishing is just too overwhelming for me. Like when someone says, “Why don’t you finish that tomorrow?’ My gosh, tomorrow might not ever come!!! Now if it doesn’t why does it matter? Beats me. I don’t know. Whatever. That’s just how it is! It would be like drinking only half of the milk poured in your glass. Oh my gosh!!! Signed: Your Mother-in-Law (of course)

    • I do know! But not every mountain is climbable, and sometimes you just have to start. Part way up can still be better than standing on the sidewalk looking up at the mountain, no? At least you get some view. =) Love you, Trudie.

  • -j-

    I think you’re right. And, for me, the only thing more frustrating than getting where I wanted to go and being disappointed, is giving up and always wondering what it would have been like had I only pressed on. Sometimes we get to pick our disappointments, I guess. And sometimes, as you say, it’s everything we hoped for and more. Lovely post!

    • Thank you, J! I agree: if I had to choose between being disappointed and always wondering what I’ve missed, I choose disappointment every time. That’s why I always submit to my top tier publication first, even if I know there’s hardly any chance, because otherwise I’ll always wonder if they might have said yes after all. Thanks for stopping by!