The mountain that was

There once was a girl who stood in a valley. She had walked there from afar trying to outrun her own shadow. The clouds were low and thick and it was starkly quiet. She was alone. The journey here had been arduous and at this point, she had forgotten why she had started it in the first place. Now she stood, still and out of breath. Her mind raced. The paths that lay before her were not easy, for the valley had ended and all that was left were jagged, snow covered peaks. Just as she was contemplating which direction to go, the wind started to howl, and as it blew, one of the summits became visible. The sun shone here and she took it as a sign that it is the one she should climb. The trouble was, she was not prepared to climb. She had brought little with her; only a handful of matches and some streamers to tie back her hair.

Still, her soul stirred and she couldn't take her eyes off the glimmering mountain calling to her like a siren. Her feet grew lighter as she ran towards it; her steps were effortless. She grabbed the rock and started her ascent. A path of light gleamed all way to the ground now to show the way. Giddy, she put her foot on the side of the first huge boulder. It was covered in ice and her foot slid immediately off. She stepped back perplexed. "How, she thought, could it be so clear, what I am supposed to do, and that it is so hard?" She repositioned her foot and stood up on the rock. Progress! She did it again and again. With every few steps she would pull a streamer from her hair to mark her path, just in case she slipped, which happened on occasion. But every slip taught her something new; how to grab a rock, where to put her foot, how to balance and what to do when it seemed like the path had come to an end.

She grew stronger, but at times, the journey would prove too much. The face would become too steep with nowhere to take hold. She would descend some, change direction and start again. And when the wind howled too fiercely, she took cover in small caves that she found along the way, starting fires with the little matches she had left.

After what seemed like years, she pulled the last steamer from her hair and wedged it into a rock at the top. The sunlight of the summit graced her face. Now as she stood there, with all the wisdom of the climb, she looked out over the remaining peaks. The one she had climbed was the highest by far with more steep walls than she could count. She couldn't help but feel accomplished.

The sun dimmed with the day behind her and she turned to see where it was going. There, behind her the back side of the mountain was lit in the golden twilight. But it wasn't like the front side at all. The snow was gone and the back side of the mountain was a gentle slope down to a valley of small green rolling hills.

Emotions swirled within her. "How could this be so easy when the front side was so hard? Why did I struggle so much when I could have just walked around this mountain?" The wind seemed to say, Because others will climb after you. They may not have a light on their path, as you did. But they have the streamers you left behind. You thought those were for you to help find your way, but you were creating a path for others to follow.

This is my birthday post. It is a declaration of sorts; a new year resolution. Sharing what I have learned in my life really is my mission. It fills me every day as I help others and this year, I feel like I can say, the rolling hills finally lay ahead. It's still an adventure for sure, but as this year unfolds, I can't wait to see what it has in store.

If you are climbing a mountain right now, just know that others have been on that same mountain before you. Mountains aren't meant to be climbed forever and they certainly aren't meant to be carried. The mountains in your life are a testament to your strength and power, not a downfall or shame.

So here is to all of the mountain climbers out there who think they have nothing left, but still climb the mountains anyway. Rolling hills are waiting for you on the other side too.

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