I surmounted my Everest last year, or so I thought. I don’t even want to give voice to the next challenge that lies in my path for fear that it will gain gravity and become another mountain. I will just say this…Life is struggle and the thing about climbing mountains is that almost every one of them leads to another mountain. We’ve all been there. We’ve looked up at the granite monstrosity in our path and laced up our boots, grabbed our gear and climbed. One foot at a time, digging our nails into the mountain’s stony shell we climbed. We’ve endured the wind and rain that shrouds the highest peaks because we live for the view from the summit. Or maybe I shouldn’t speak for you. Maybe you prefer to go around. I won’t judge anyone for that. It’s your life and the paths through the valleys below are easy. The view however, is nothing to write home about. The low roads won’t break your bones or your spirit. You won’t climb for 11 months alone, often simply tying yourself to the rock to avoid being blown from the heights. On those shaded paths below you won’t feel the crush as you finally summit only to find, not the alpine lake you dreamed of for those long, lonely months, but instead another cruel peak glaring down at you. Beyond it’s broad shoulders are a legion of stone guardians, grown for the sole purpose of holding you back…if you choose to look at them that way. Instead shift perspective and look where you came from. The view is to die for. Now look at yourself. The climb has made you as hard as the stones that ground away your weakness. You are now built to endure. The challenge of surviving those peaks is what gives life meaning. From this peak there are only two choices. Backtrack and go around, or maybe find a tunnel through to the other side of the range. I wonder if the tunnel is dark enough to blind you to the dreams of the view from above. Will you remember the smell of the clouds from it’s rank depths? The other path lies down the far face of the mountain. It is treacherous from the first step and beyond it surely lies pain and hardship, but no longer misery. You are built to endure now. Somewhere up here your alpine lake waits, all you have to do to reach it is keep climbing.