a recent conversation concerning mountain climbing, my father-in-law
commented to me, "I don't know why anyone would want to
go to the top of any mountain. I've never had the desire to
go to the top of anything just to look down on where I've been..."
father-in-law is one of the last of the rustic cynicists, but
he does make a great point. And in my experience as a novice
mountain climber talking to other experienced climbers, I've
broken climbers into four categories, which may also be adapted
to those of us on our life journey:
climb is about the conquest and conquer
climb is about the adventure
climb is all about the person
climb is about the mountain itself
me, I haven't climbed enough yet to categorize myself, but I
would like to think that I find myself in Quadrant 4 above.
This much I do know: I'm an anticipator. I simply love the anticipation
prior to any event, moment or accomplishment.
love prepping and mailing out our annual Christmas family newsletter.
I enjoy making arrangements and giving updates for our annual
college gathering after Christmas. I'm a person who truly enjoys
a good countdown to a space shuttle launch, a New Year's Eve
or the start of a race. I relish the moments leading up to a
twist in the plot of a movie. And I particularly enjoy the weeks
leading up to a vacation as much as I do the vacation itself.
Bottom line: I'm an anticipator. Perhaps this is why I enjoy
the whole physical and cerebral experience of mountain climbing.
ago I read the book Zen and the Art of Motorcyle Maintenance
by Robert Pirsig; it's the epic tale of a summer motorcyle trip
undertaken by a father and son which becomes a philosophical
journey into the fundamental questions of how to live one's
life. As they approach the Continental Divide in Montana and
they view the mountains, there is a comment made (paraphrased)
that "the goal of life is not the top, for the it's the
sides of the mountain that sustain life..." Again, as an
anticipator, I would have to agree.
each summit to the top of Mt. Rainier I've made, I would spend
one entire day in mountain climbing school, one day hiking/climbing
to 10,000 ft. (Camp Muir) and then an additional six-seven hours
of night/early morning climbing to get to the summit. All of
this prep and climbing for a short-lived one-half hour on the
summit. And let's not forget that one has to climb all the way
back down to Camp Muir (1o,000 ft.) and then all the way back
down to Paradise in Mt. Rainier National Park. It's a roundtrip
hike of 18 miles - again, all for one-half hour summit visit.
climber knows there is a certain amount of probability with
any climb which may or may not result in a successful summit;
there are numerous variables to consider. As guides will tell
you on any climb, "Be safe, first and foremost. And at
whatever altitude you finish - whether it's on top or along
the way, that is your 'summit.'" For those of us who are
healthy anticipators, mountain climbing becomes a wonderful
and meaningful journey, all along the way - we are successful
and winners whether we make it to the summit or not.
are you an anticipator as well, my friend, or is it all about
the end result for you? These are two power drives within each
of us and they come into play with the Christmas season; we're
so frenzied preparing for the holiday to arrive while at the
same time, we love the moments leading up to the day itself.
yourself this holiday season to be a much greater anticipator.
Take time out of your schedule to go sledding, build a snowman,
carol in your neighborhood, purchase a wreath for a loved one...
Take time out to develop a list of meaningful (not necessarily
expensive) gifts for loved ones and friends. Anticipate fully
the joy that is to come on Christmas morning, but also be mindful
of the "Christmas morning joy" that is occurring around
you each day; little meaningful gifts of love and fellowship
and hope. As well, take time after Christmas to celebrate that
joy that has come into the world - fight back the urge to take
down the tree and decorations too quickly.
a Quadrant 4 climber, my friend, during this season. The summit
will come soon enough, so be sure to stop, catch your breath
and take in the view from where you're at. The summit experience
will be brief but the climb up AND down will make it all worthwhile.
in answer to my father-in-law, I would say this: It is not simply
a matter of climbing to see where we've been. It is a journey
and testament of the heart and the view is not a static reflection
of where we've been, but rather a dynamic view on who we are
becoming. Regardless of whether we stand on the illusive summit,
it is the journey that reveals to us the character and potential
inside of us.
the very same statement can be made of the Christmas season.
the coming days before, during and after Christmas, my friend.