A few years ago my brother, Andy, climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, the tallest freestanding mountain in the world. The trek requires 6 days of climbing to get to the 19,000+ summit and back. Needless to say, I was eager to hear of this trip upon his return that took him to the top of an African mountain like no other on this planet. Over a beer and a narrated slide show, Andy shared with me the details of this life-changing adventure.
As I reflect on his stories, I most remember his journey up the mountain rather than his time at the top. Sure, the pictures of the summit were breath-taking, and the sense of accomplishment I saw in him was inspiring. But, in life’s adventures it’s often the challenges, not the triumphs, which best define the experience.
On Andy’s climb, one of his porters broke his leg, so they had to carry on with fewer resources until a replacement could catch up with their team. On the day before the summit he climbed a cliff called Barranca Wall, a steep 800 foot vertical climb that intimidates many climbers to simply turn back down the mountain. Andy and his team were among the first that day to tackle it, meaning they had a unique opportunity to be at the summit in solitude. These challenges they faced and overcame are the pieces from his adventure that I most remember.
As the great philosopher Miley Ray Cyrus says, “It’s The Climb” (listen to it here) *
“I may not know it,
but these are the moments,
that I’m gonna remember most yeah,
just gotta keep going.”
It’s no secret; life is challenging for everyone. For you, for me, for your Instagram buddies that only show the polished side of their lives…for everyone. Several of my posts on this blog have been about dealing and struggling with challenges;
In some way, all of these posts have also been about embracing challenges. “There’s always gonna be another mountain”, and “it’s always gonna be an uphill battle.” We need to learn to embrace challenges, because life is rarely a cake-walk. We can keep our eye on the summit and relish those moments when we’re at the top, but we need to remember that it’s the climb that defines our journey. I think Andy would agree.
*The song “The Climb” is provided only for illustrative purposes, and is not meant to be distributed without copyrights.