A couple days ago, I climbed the tallest mountain in Maine: Mt. Katahdin.
While hiking/climbing up to the top and sliding/stumbling down to the bottom, all I could think about was how every step I took could be directly related to the process of living. The more I climbed, the more I thought, and the more I appreciated everything. In short, here are 15 life lessons I became more aware of as I made my way.
There’s a quote that’s been going around lately on various social media outlets that says,
“Sometimes you find yourself in the middle of nowhere; and sometimes, in the middle of nowhere, you find yourself…”
I couldn’t agree more.
1. You think it will be easy at first, but once you get going you begin to wonder if you’ll ever make it.
2. Each step is like a calculated (or uncalculated) choice you make. It could be life changing or it could be just a baby step in the right direction. Don’t lose hope if you slip and fall along the way, that’s bound to happen. Just regroup, find a different place to stand and move forward.
3. Don’t forget to look at the big picture every once and awhile; Look to where you want to go. There was 1 or 2 times when I was so focused on my footing and looking down that I completely bashed my head on a boulder above me. While I was fine, it was a good little reality check and it allowed me to see stars, literally.
4. Sometimes in order to go up, the path takes you down and around. It’s not usually just a straight shot to the top. Accept this, and appreciate the change in pace.
5. How you look is of little importance. I was wearing running shorts a tank top and my Sanuks–some cloth shoes similar to Tom’s, but in my opinion are way comfier. I chose these purposefully, knowing that I feel the ground well in them and believe my balance to be better having very minimal support. I also hate running shoes/hiking boots, and will do as much as I can to avoid wearing them. In the end I think you do what you know to be best for you, although other people will judge you. Just smile at them and let them think what they want.
6. Don’t forget to look around. The view (our life) is so very beautiful. This is the only moment that you will be breathing in this air at this very moment. Love yourself, stand in awe looking at how far you’ve come, and get excited for the rest of your journey. The views only get better the higher you go. Savor the moments.
7. Sometimes you lose the path, and go a little off the beaten course. This can be scary, and usually has more risks attached. Have faith in yourself, and trust that everything will be okay. Appreciate that you will live to tell stories of things others have never seen or known.
8. At some points it may seem that the path is never ending, you will be mentally, emotionally and physically tired. While a break never hurt anyone, don’t give up and turn around. Give yourself some time to heal and have faith in the process.
9. Acknowledge that we as human beings all have our own strengths and weaknesses. Know what yours are, and be accepting of them. Know your fears. Know when you can push your limits and when you absolutely need to stop. They will raise you up and also keep you humble.
10. Take time to feed yourself. Feed your soul, nourish your body and feed your passion. We need all of this “food” to thrive.
11. Be supportive of your friends who journey with you, as you never know when you will need their help. Because it is for certain at some point you will, and when they do offer help don’t be embarrassed to accept it.
12. Don’t be afraid of the rain, because at some point it will pour and you won’t be able to escape it. You will get soaked (because you forgot to bring a rain jacket), your clothes will sag and weigh you down, the rocks will become slippery and even more dangerous than they were to start with and the fog that settles in will perhaps block your view momentarily. Know that like anything, “This too shall pass.” Let the rain wash away any tears or fears that may have crept to the surface and keep moving forward, maybe just with a little more caution for the time being.
13. Smile at strangers and say hello. Remind yourself that we are all on our own journeys and some paths may only cross once, so why not make it a pleasant one?
14. Be thankful– for yourself, your body, your friends, the view, the falls, and the triumphs. You are doing something amazing, and while this journey or climb may have ended, know that there are always more mountains waiting to be climbed.
15. Don’t be afraid to climb again. When you decide you’re ready to climb again, use the experience and lessons learned along the way this trip.
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Asst Ed: Julie Garcia / Ed: Catherine Monkman