But I also spent a lot of time on my back. When the only thing keeping you on a ninety degree angle is the strength of your fingers and toes, you end up falling. A lot. We all got a good laugh out of each fall, and yet there was always that feeling (when laying on the ground, looking up at the wall) that maybe taking off the shoes and spending the rest of the afternoon on the bench sipping Vitamin Water is a good idea.
It isn't. This is about the point when you all start rolling your eyes. Oh, Michael - you aren't giving us the old 'get back on the horse' sermon, are you? Yup! It's one of those things I don't think anyone can hear enough (myself definitely included).
Mediocrity is not anything we are born into. It is not something another person can force us into. Eleanor Roosevelt said, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." She was absolutely right, and I think a lot of us know that.
But what we forget is that, while people aren't allowed to make us feel inferior against our will, mountains can't either. It doesn't matter how many times the mountain throws you off, how many times you slip off the rock, tumble to the ground - break. You are not subject to your obstacles, but you are subject to your reactions to those obstacles.
I was a severely stressed out kid. I was sufferer of the oldest and most common of maladies: worry. My life changed significantly thanks to my middle school leadership teachers. Mrs. Bach and Ms. Thomas (to whom I owe a lot) taught me, over the course of three difficult years, that worrying solves no problem. Reacting badly to the fall doesn't make the fall hurt less.
It's something I don't think about often. But I think rock climbing today was a good reminder that coffee is strongest when enjoyed, steaming, at the top of a mountain, even if it took a hundred climbs to summit. And for those of you who remember when I was obsessed with the path to joy, I think I've found it. The one thing that gives us meaning and defines our ability to truly live well is persistance. There is no mountain that defines us, because there are no mountains we cannot climb.
May your coffee be strong, your passions electric, and your laughter easy.
Photos by (the ever-brilliant) Shreya Tewari
on the topics of mountains and joy.