“Life is a journey.” It’s pretty cliché, I know, but sometimes a cliché just works so well we can’t describe something a better way.
Have you ever felt that life had become stagnant? A career had peaked and there was nowhere to go. A relationship had hit a plateau. A hobby you adore suddenly seemed pointless. That’s the mountaintop and life’s journey doesn’t end there.
“Think with me here…everybody wants to be on the mountaintop, but if you’ll remember, mountaintops are rocky and cold. There is no growth on the top of the mountain. Sure, the view is great, but what’s a view for? A view just gives us a glimpse of our next destination – our next target. But to hit that target, we must come off the mountain, go through the valley, and begin to climb the next slope. It is in the valley that we slog through the lush grass and rich soil, learning and becoming what enables us to summit life’s next peak.”The Noticer by Andy Andrews
You can get to the top of a hill and think, “Ah, yes. Here I am. I’ve made it to the top.” You begin to set up camp, make a space for yourself, but then that feeling sets in. When you take a look at your immediate surroundings, it seems there is nowhere to go but down the other side. Is this all there is? I’ve gotten to the top and now I just sit and wait?
Nope. Not even close. Take a longer look out at the horizon, get your binoculars out if you have to. There’s another peak in the distance, maybe another small one or a big one. The valley below may be wide or narrow, swampy wet or bone dry, it may even look like perfect farmland, but it has to be crossed. This is growth.
We tend to look at our life as one long climb, interrupted by trials and errors. If we somehow manage to get to the top, we win, but most of us never get that far. Most of us keep looking at our feet, climbing is all we know.
What if instead we looked at our life as a journey, with up sides, down sides, hills, mountains, fertile valleys, and dry deserts? Each portion of the journey helps us get to the next. Each hill gives us a view to survey and decide which direction to choose. Each valley teaches us the skills we need for the next climb.
Each of us should be living our own independent lives, creating our own future, following our own individual paths. People join us on our journey, long and short term. We’re born to parents that attend us in the beginning, into families that help us through the first valleys, but at some point, we stand on a mountaintop and choose a direction of our own.
We meet friends and lovers, choose full-time, part-time, and occasional partners, build small and large clans that make it easier to pass through the next valley and up the climb to the peak. Again, we stand and survey the view, choose a direction, find out who will join us, and wish the others well on their own chosen journey.
At the end of our lives, we may be at any point on the map. We’ve met people and lost people. We’ve created relationships, lost some, built on old ones. I’d like the see the “location history” of a single life, with all the intersections of other’s lives, how long they moved alongside us, and where we all ended up.
This past year, I’ve been on a mountain top and had begun to feel that “Is this all there is?” feeling. The longer I sat on it, the more fearful I became about what was coming next. Stay on the mountain dreaming about the other peaks, waiting for something to happen, or head down into the valley to work through and then head back up another peak. Neither option looked like something I wanted to do.
But then I thought, “I can’t sit here enjoying the spoils until I die. It’s just too early in life for that!” I took a good look around, decided on a new general direction and headed down the hillside. I’m not sure what peak I’m headed to at this point. I only know that the journey isn’t over and that standing still for too long isn’t going to make anything easier.
Life is a journey that’s too short to wait on fear of the unknown.
I posted about this book when I read it back in January. Go check out “The Noticer” by Andy Andrews, to see where my journey with it began.
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