|Sweet sense of accomplishment: the view from atop Cedar Butte. Lainey Piland photo|
"But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended."
~ Nelson Mandela
This lovely quote came to me by way of the Sierra Club's "Daily Ray of Hope" e-mails. On the surface, this is a quote that any nature lover or outdoors person can relate to, but it also speaks on a deeper level to our lives in general.
The photo above was taken on my recent hike to Cedar Butte, and it was a triumphant moment for me. I'm a terrible uphill hiker. Any trek with significant elevation gain (more than a few hundred feet) is usually struck from my list of hiking possibilities immediately. However, Cedar Butte seemed manageable, so I tried it, and was rewarded with an incredible view for my efforts. Although I hate the burning legs, burning lungs, and red-faced sweatiness that often accompany these sorts of hikes, it is undeniably sweet to revel in a feeling of accomplishment as you stand on the summit and gaze down on the world way down below. The place where you started looks so small and far away.
But my long walk is not yet ended. There are more spectacular sights to see, and many of them require uphill treks. I won't linger in the sense of accomplishment of hiking Cedar Butte, but will instead set my sights on the next destination.
In a less literal sense, Mandela's words above encourage us to push forward in every aspect of our lives, stating that in fact, we have the responsibility to do so, rather than stagnating in the afterglow of a great accomplishment. Climbed a mountain? Great, now go climb another one. Fulfilled a long-held desire to volunteer for a cause or nonprofit organization? Great, now go volunteer more - there is plenty of work to be done. Wrote a book? Great, now go write another one - there is more to be said. Grew some flowers? Great, now go plant some more - there are many places in the world that need brightening. Graduated from college? Great, now continue growing and learning every day in the great classroom of life. And on and on....
So let's take a cue from Mandela and from the hills that we climb... let's not long rest satisfied in the feeling of accomplishment after meeting a goal or doing something good. There is too much to see and do in our short lives on this great planet... enjoy for a moment and then move on to that next "great hill".
|Resting atop Cedar Butte, reveling in the moment and gazing at the mountains in the distance. Lainey Piland photo|