Four Important Life Lessons I’ve Learned from Climbing Mountains
Do you remember the first time you climb a mountain? Was it fun? Were you able to reach the summit or did you give up trekking halfway up? Did you also exclaim a series of expletives while on trek? You’re not alone.
My first climb was in the limatik-infested Mt. Natib in Bataan. It was definitely a hell of an experience but wasn’t short of fun. I remembered asking myself what the f*ck I am doing with a bunch of strangers climbing a mountain when I can simply chill at home, eat a bucketful of popcorn while doing a movie marathon. I did not even check the type or kind of foothill we are climbing that day so when I learned that it was more than 1,200 meters above sea level, a major climb heavily infested with leeches, I laughed so hard I had to wipe my tears. “Stupid girl” I whispered, and promised myself not to do it again.
A week later however, I was back to the summit. Then another summit after that. My fascination for highlands was converted into passion, then addiction. For 3 years I have been climbing almost every weekend, scaling mountains after mountains. I even marked the epoch of my climbing history by climbing Mt. Kota Kinabalu alone!
At a scant four-eleven, I am so little as compared to mountains, but I am proud to put almost 50 elevations under my sleeves before finally settling down and marry my climb buddy three years ago. Despite our busy married life, we still climb from time to time. We even bring our daughter with us.
Climbing mountains has been a part of my system. It has been rooted deep into my being and flourished well through my veins. Today, as I am sitting before my laptop looking at the countless snapshots I collected from years of climbing mountains, I ask myself – WHAT ARE THE LIFE LESSONS I’VE LEARNED FROM ALL THESE?
And I started writing down my thoughts…
1.) From climbing mountains, I learned to find beauty in simplicity.
One time I asked my husband, “Why do you think we are contented and happy despite not having millions in our bank account?” His reply, “Because we know how to maximize our resources. We learned how to appreciate simple things because we experienced how to live a simple life when we climb mountains.”
He’s right. Climbing mountains is a humble activity that has to be done by people with recognizable tenacity. There is a tangible and measurable goal in mountaineering and that is to reach the summit. In climbing, the rewards are pure, and the act itself contrasts with the synthetic fabricated existence of the modern society.
When you climb, nothing else matters. Hours fly swiftly. The accrued disorder of daily existence such as the unpaid bills, towering dishes, dirty laundry, failed opportunities, heavy traffic, and so on and so forth, will be temporarily forgotten. The clamor that we have to deal with every single day is reduced to a focused act. Up there, needs are so simple and most of these are earned. When you have been out there, climbing mountains, you will appreciate how life’s simple pleasures are magnified and learn to melt away all other trivia of life.
2.) Up there, I have found my inner peace.
Mountains are amazingly beautiful places. You do not need to have a diploma to know that. I feel complete just to be around such a soothing, refined beauty. When I climb, I acknowledge unambiguity to landscapes and understand how the branches of the trees are twisted by the winds. I learn how rocks have been battered by time. I get amused, amazed, and impressed on the kaleidoscopic layers of ashes and stones even of the deadly volcanoes. It was only when I started climbing that I learned to appreciate the breeze from the mountains that bring fresh energy to the urban life below.
When I reached my first summit, I know I am closer to the sky; closer than the majority of the world’s population. Climbing led me to think that if I pray from the summits, right there and then, God will hear me first as my whisper will travel faster than those who are at the level ground. From up there, I felt the renewal of my spirit; my heart was recharged. From the vantage of the lofty summits, I have seen my past and with the unusual sensitivity I experienced on my first peak, I dreamed of the future. When I am one with nature, I know I can test all my human powers and find myself whole.
3.) I have better perspective in life – thanks to summits.
In mountaineering, I fell more in love with life.
I believe that a character of a man comes out when he’s outdoors. It maybe tough sometimes but we have to remember that all hurts and pains we acquired in climbing can eventually provide healthier viewpoints in life, renew our strengths, and clear our visions. The challenging moments of getting to the top, taking the risks, and testing the limit of my physical and mental endurance gave me a sense of renewal that goes beyond the accomplishment of summiting mountains. Climbing mountains helped me to gain better perspective on what is really important in life. From the summits, I reached the pinnacle from where I was able to celebrate creation. For my every climb, I was reborn.
The rewards of mountaineering are beyond extent. When I stand at the summit and look down on the earth below, I always have that feeling of pride and satisfaction. Knowing that I was able to go through all challenges along the trail makes the moment extra special. Mountains can challenge us in various ways, and that what makes climbing exciting. Through mountains, I learned to know better – what to value in life and what my priorities should be. I can now attain inner peace from an entirely different perspective.
4.) Mountaineering taught me how to live my life to the fullest!
When I started climbing mountains, I saw that the world was made real. Knowing that I gave myself the best “hurrah of life” at a higher pitch on higher grounds makes living more fun and stimulating. Someday soon, I know I have great tales to tell.
It was unexpected but I used mountaineering to know my worth. It taught me to rise above my limitations and conquer all challenges. It helped me to acknowledge and accept the fact that the world is full of harsh outback and only those who are strong thrive; the unfit are weeded out.
You cannot stay on the summit forever. When you reach the top, you have to come down and go through the discomfort of trekking again. So why bother to go up in the first place? The answer is simple. You cannot see below the things that you see when you are up there. When you stay on level ground, you will not learn what lies above, but when you go up, you will know both worlds.
Mountains expose their best grandeurs only to those who sweat and make effort. They have so much to give and they lavishly reward those who will wrestle with them. The best gifts of mountains are reserved only for those who find their way up and stand upon their mighty summits.
Climbing mountains is personal. The only barrier is within you. Same with life, you have to know how much farther you can go in order to determine where you are heading to.
Today, while you are still physically capable of summiting peaks, climb. Do not try to know why, do not give so much thought about it, and do not focus on the difficulties. Just climb. Because someday, the things that you will regret are the things that you didn’t do when you were able to.
Climb and never get tired of watching the way of light.
Thank you for dropping by!
Do you have life lessons you learned from mountaineering that you want to share? Drop a comment below and inspire others too!
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