Mountains and Metaphors
Mountains are the perfect metaphor
Last weekend I climbed a mountain and it was a big deal. I struggled a lot, but managed to make it to the top and enjoy the fall foliage and lake below me, and the clear blue sky above me. Both the land and sky stretched on all around and I felt powerful–until I had to climb back down the mountain with my jello legs. It took some time, but I made it down in one piece.
This adventure was a big deal for me because I hadn’t been hiking in about a decade and I’m currently out of shape. I’m trying to change those things by walking and hiking and being active outdoors. I climbed Mt. Major, a 1,785 footer, where children and older people alike were rushing up the mountainside to get to the top. Some people had dogs, while others played music and took a more leisurely stride–all the while passing me as I took one of my many breaks. There were tears, mostly of frustration at myself, and I wanted to give up along the way. Everyone else made it look so easy. Why couldn’t I just ignore the burning in my calves and the pain in my ankles and keep going? Why did I have to be such a baby?
It’s easy to self reflect and meditate while you’re surrounded by nature, even while pain is radiating from your body. While I complained and said things such as, “this is stupid; why would anyone climb a mountain for fun?” I couldn’t help but to think about all of those cliche metaphors about mountains. There are so many quotes, movies, songs, books, etc., about mountains, and it made me stop and think. I personally believe the mountain metaphor is overused because it’s the perfect metaphor.
I wrote a post a couple weeks ago about being a late bloomer and going through life at your own pace. The same can be said about climbing a mountain; it’s not a race, and instead of getting mad at myself for not being as fast as everyone else, I should have just enjoyed the climb and the experience. The wonderful people I went hiking with have more experience hiking and are more in shape than I am, and I kept comparing myself with them, instead of enjoying the beautiful day happening around me.
Let the analogies begin
There are so many quotes linking life to climbing a mountain because both are hard!
Here are a few quotes about mountains:
“It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.” Edmund Hillary
“A mountain is composed of tiny grains of earth. The ocean is made up of tiny drops of water. Even so, life is but an endless series of little details, actions, speeches, and thoughts. And the consequences whether good or bad of even the least of them are far-reaching.” Swami Sivananda
“The choices we make lead up to actual experiences. It is one thing to decide to climb a mountain. It is quite another to be on top of it.” Herbert A. Simon
“Every great achievement is but a small peak in the mountain range of contributions.” Dale T. Mortensen
“Being positive is like going up a mountain. Being negative is like sliding down a hill. A lot of times, people want to take the easy way out, because it’s basically what they’ve understood throughout their lives.” Chuck D.
“Winners take time to relish their work, knowing that scaling the mountain is what makes the view from the top so exhilarating.”Denis Waitley
As you can see, linking mountains to life is appropriate. And to be quite honest, Miley Cyrus’ song “The Climb” and “Climb Every Mountain” from The Sound of Music are playing in my head while I write this.
But, why mountains?
There’s this sort of obsession with conquering mountains, especially Everest because it’s the tallest peak in the world. Compared to the grand scheme of things, humans are really tiny and mountains make us feel like it. There’s this sense of power in conquering things bigger than yourself, and reaching the top of a mountain is certainly a great example of that. There’s also this great sense of peace while being closer to the sky, the heavens, than being stuck in the valley below.
Life is hard. Climbing a mountain is hard. Both are worth experiencing, no matter how painful or stupid they may seem at the time, because the view from the top is breathtaking. This is what makes the journey worth it.