The other day I was listening to someone talk about a party that made their way to the peak of Everest, or basecamp, or the summit, I don’t know…whatever the word is…THE TOP. Anyways, they were talking about how this group spent almost two months and spent thousands of dollars all to get to the top of the world’s most famous mountain…where they spent about an hour and then headed back down. It’s incredible, when you think about it. You spend all that time and all that money to get to a destination, only to immediately turn around and walk away. How could someone do that? Why wouldn’t you want to spend time enjoying the prize? Simple, the prize has nothing to do with the top of Everest.
The true value in the trip up Everest is…the trip up Everest. It is a horrible cliché that happens to be true, that it’s the journey, not the destination that makes all the difference. It is how and why we get there that makes the difference. The moment at the top is fleeting. I’ve never climbed Everest and I’ll venture that I’m never going to climb Everest (although I’ve been thinking a little bit about it lately). But I have climbed Grouse Grind in Vancouver. If you’re not familiar, Grouse Grind is a mountain located in Vancouver. It is a 2.9km long trail that climbs 2,800ft. It takes an hour and a half for the average hiker while novice climbers are told to prepare for at least 2 hours. It took me 1 hour and 57 minutes.
The view from the top of Grouse Grind is breathtaking. It really is. In addition to the view, there is a grizzly bear sanctuary at the top and seeing two rescued grizzly bears was pretty amazing. But the really amazing thing, the thing I loved the most about that climb was the climb. Now, the climb was awful. It was likely the single most difficult physical thing I’ve ever done. There were moments where I thought, “I can’t possibly do this” and there were a couple of moments where I thought, “that’s it, I’m turning around”. But I didn’t. I kept climbing.
I know a lot of people who have that feeling in their daily life. They think, “I can’t do this.” As I say several times a day, “life is hard, yo.” But that climb makes it worthwhile. That climb might be a hard project or a physical climb, a difficult week at the office or a hard month of freelance life. No matter what, when you get through that day or week or month, you’ll realize that something valuable came out of it. You may have learned a new process, or procedure or strategy. You may have learned how to deal with people or how to avoid them. But that climb is worth something. That climb is worth a hell of a lot more than the completed project. It’s worth more than casual Friday. It’s worth more than a certificate of achievement. It’s worth more than just about anything.
But you don’t have to be a passive observer in your own life. What you really need to do is consider the value in that journey, each and every day. My conscious of what you’re doing. Pay attention. Whether you work for yourself or for someone else, it’s very easy to just put your head down and work. It’s very easy to try to work your way through it and sometimes that’s necessary but more often than not, you need to pay attention to every single moment.
My favorite author, Dan Millman writes that, “there are no ordinary moments” and I’ve done my best to take that idea to heart. Very often, we spend our time thinking about “what’s next?” We rarely pay careful enough attention to what is actually happening in the moment. Start. Now.