Hiding

the summit and the climb

 

You cannot get to the summit without the climb, and there is no reason to climb without the summit. Both are important. Both draw their breath from the other. But your life will be only be shaped by submitting to one of them.

Reaching the summit is an achievement. A measurable, bankable, and an undeniably great achievement. Making your climb on the other hand, is long, at times tedious, forgettable and wholeheartedly rests in the realm of possibilities.

No one can fully measure the significance of each your steps, and you will make countless steps along the way. There is no journey and no summit without any one of them. All of them matter.  They are all extremely significant.

We can’t reach the peak without the steps.  Without the ones that made us stumble.  Without the ones, we made in hesitation and later in sorrow.  The ones we were forced to take.  The ones that made us slip and fall, but we cannot forget about the ones that made us skip and jump.  The ones that made us laugh and scream in excitement.

We can’t reach the summit without any of the steps that made us embrace the journey we are on in the first place.

At the closing ceremonies of the third annual Invictus Games, hosted in Toronto recently, Prince Harry made a heartfelt address to the many wounded warriors that sat in front of him.

He told them, and I am paraphrasing, that today they reached the top of the mountain.  They have persevered, overcome, and have reached their glorious summit. They should enjoy the view. They should soak up the feeling of victory and never forget that dreams come true.

He also told them to remember that tomorrow will inevitably come. The extraordinary will once again slide back into ordinary.  Saturday night, will turn to Monday morning. Summer will become Winter.

He told them to make a plan. To decide to be great. To start a business or start a ruckus. He told them that their acts can be simple like calling a friend they haven’t seen in a while, or doing homework with their kids. He told them to support one another. To dream out loud. To work towards the next summit.

I learned much that evening.

I learned the meaning of the old cliché that life is a journey and not a destination.

I heard it so often but I never understood the meaning.

It’s the process.  The journey.  The climb.

So, enjoy all the little, seemingly unconnected moments. Embrace the insignificant little things, and quickly forget your missteps.

You have a choice to make.  You are free to either be infatuated with the mountain peak and spend your life chasing the high of another brilliant performance, or you can fall in love and cherish the friendship of the rigorous climb. 

Quite frankly, we will spend the majority of our lives walking and climbing.  We will spend most of our days, which will quickly turn into years, moving forward, marching towards the next horizon. When we get there, and we will get there, we will see a new horizon. A more glorious sunrise that we could have imagined, and we will once again continue our journey. We will take a new step.

I hope you decide to be a person of the climb and not the summit.  I hope you decide to participate and share your gifts with the rest of us because there is never a good reason why you should hide.

Don’t hide.

Fall in love with the climb. Embrace your bruises and scars. Take a step upward. Climb with confidence. Climb with meaning.

You will get to the peak of the mountain. 

I believe in you.

You will get there and for a moment, you will bask in the glory of it all.  You will feel great, but all of your memories and all of your stories that you will begin to tell, will not be about what you saw, but rather who you were with, what you overcame, and what you had to sacrifice to get there.

Learn from Prince Harry and the Wounded Warriors.

Keep climbing and encourage others along the way.

 


no one will remember

 

One day it will all be a distant memory.

And it doesn’t matter what you do. 

It doesn’t matter if it what you experience today or lived out yesterday was good or bad.  Happy or sad.  Memorable or somewhat forgettable.

It doesn’t matter what you do.  It doesn’t matter, because everything, no matter how insignificant, how grand, embarrassing or otherwise, will one day be forgotten. 

Our mistakes and bruises, as well as our many disappointments and transgressions, will soon be forgotten and overshadowed by the art of living. 

You see, we were born with an expiration date.

We are no different than a carton of milk at the supermarket.

One of the great benefits of growing older, is not having enough time to keep track of every mistake or transgression that caused us to stumble. 

We were not granted the time to look back, or concern ourselves with what was, or what could have been.  It is not important.  We are people faith and hope.  Individuals living our lives forward and the future doesn’t depend on our past.

Even if you try.  Even if you persist and stomp your feet.  In time, everything fades, blurs, and becomes a distant passing memory.  The intensity of the moment fades.  We forget why, how, or how often.

So, it really doesn’t matter if what you experienced up to now has been virtuous or corruptible, joyful or melancholy, unforgettable or unremarkable.  It doesn’t matter.  What matters, however, is who you were and who you want to be.

You.

Not who you were but who you are.  Who you want to be.

I am not diminishing your real pain and the agony you might have suffered.  Far from it.  What you have endured and overcome is very courageous.  I am simply musing about the past, and how to leverage that experience and redeem the future.

It is really important to redeem our future.  It is important to hope.  To strive forward.

We simply cannot let the bastards grind us down. 

You have no right to hunt yourself down either.

All our actions and thoughts, ultimately end up in a rusty, unassuming, storage container, buried deep inside our unconscious mind.  Yet as we grow and dance with wisdom, our very character, the person who we are, who we have become and want to be, is ever more amplified and manifest itself ever more emphatically.

This is why, it is invaluable that we remember who we are, not what we have done, or what was done to us.   

We were born to be.  To be great.

For that reason, we must focus on our character, and developing that character, and not get hung up on our mistakes. 

Let the dead bury the dead.  Let the past remain the past.

No one will remember. 

No one will care.

Your memories will be a bit hazy too.

When you look in the mirror who do you see?  Do you see someone that makes you proud or do you avert your own gaze?  Someone memorable or forgettable?  Someone joyful or sad?

Don’t be so rough on yourself.

Remember that mistakes are events.  They happened. 

You are in the in the present.

The decision you make today, is not predetermined by what you did yesterday.

You are free to be.

Mistakes belong to the business of doing. 

Your life belongs to the art of living.

You won’t remember anyway, so take solace in your hope, by doing something today, that will make you into someone, you won’t hesitate to share tomorrow.

Forget your mistakes.  Don’t cover yourself with ugliness.  Don’t carry your regret and guilt alone.

Allow yourself to forget.

No one will remember.

Focus instead on who you are.

Who you dream to be.

 


hiding in plain sight

 

When it comes to having dreams, we always raise our hands in excitement.  When it comes time to buying the shovel and spade, and doing the work, the numbers noticeably dwindle.  When it’s time to finish what we started, and be finally done with our labour, the numbers become even more anemic.  Finally, when it’s time to gift the world with what you’ve made, you will find yourself very much alone.

You will begin to doubt, get anxious, and become overwhelmed with fear. 

I am still trying to figure out what it is about our human nature that prevents us from sharing who we are.  What it is that distracts us and convinces us that we are not good enough.

We don’t think of ourselves as unworthy impostors, until we have something we can share. 

We begin to imagine we will die a slow and painful death of shame and indignation and so we pull back in fear, because everyone will once again know and see our very frail limitations. 

The good life, the happy life, is meant for someone else.  The lives of Saints, are a painful reminder that success is not found on a road less travelled.  It is nothing more than an abandoned dead end. 

This is a lie we tell ourselves.

It is a truly strange because when toss the first shovel full of dirt over our shoulder, the glory and sense of accomplishment, is all we envision and sense. 

We spend time imagining what it will feel like when we were finished.  We impress our minds with how meaningful and beautiful it will all be when we finish.  How glorious, to share who we are, and what we have made, with perfect strangers.  Strangers no more.  Brothers and sisters connected in a beautiful spirit of human experience.

But we don’t ship.  We hide.  We hide from ourselves and we hide from each other.

We hide in plain sight.

When we are close, we nit-pick. 

We find fault. 

We notice errors in the smallest of things, the insignificant, magnifying the mistakes no one sees or even cares about.  We seek the council of people who we know deep down, will find something wrong with what we have made.  We thrash about looking and embracing every sensible opinion that convinces us that what we really need, is just one more day, another week, another month, and perhaps another whole year. 

You need to get it right, to polish it up; just a little bit more.  Just a tiny bit.  Almost there.  Have faint, it’s almost time.  A crank here. A little adjustment.  A little tug.  The slightest pull.

And so, you hide.

We have hidden who we are for years.  Decades. 

We run away from what we want, who we are, and what we dream about.

It’s safer not to make a ruckus. To not raise your voice.  To sit down.  To timidly, take it.  To politely wait your turn.

But your turn never comes. 

You are almost there, but never there.

You hate yourself for not speaking up and become tired and weary for spending your entire life, sitting back and taking it.

When is it going to be your turn?

When will you stand up and have people take notice?

It won’t be easy.  The criticism will certainly fly.  The gossip will wage a war against your human dignity.  Eyebrows will be raised in indignation.  Your work will be scrutinized.  It will be misunderstood.  Dissected.  Laughed at.  Jeered.  Embraced?

Could there be a chance someone will find value with what you have made?

Think of the possibilities.

You might make someone laugh.  Bring a smile to their tired face.  Give them an opportunity to cry.  Afford them permission to be who they are.  The courage to no longer pretend who they don’t want to be.  You might give them a voice, or dispel their loneliness. 

You might give them a moment of peace.  A chance to reflect.  An opportunity to embrace their broken humanity.

You might inspire them. 

Anger them. 

You might make them think and feel.

You might make a ruckus!

But not, if you remain timid, and hide in plain sight.

Nothing matters.  Nothing grows.  Nothing changes with silence and fear.

Find your voice. 

Find the courage.

Find a way to share.