“Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.” ~Andy Rooney
Three months ago, I was blessed with an awesome opportunity—a free weekend break to Snowdonia, Wales.
Having experienced chronic health conditions for the past six years of my life, I had been hibernating.
My days were a black-and-white routine: wake up, drink a smoothie mix, go to work, meditate, come home, lie down, eat, sleep. Yet, my mind was always so busy filled with endless tasks, big dreams, and an expanding sense of pressure as I craved more than what I had.
When this opportunity arose. I immediately felt fear. What if I couldn’t handle the journey? What if I didn’t get enough sleep? What if I couldn’t find food that I could tolerate?
Yet, another part of me glittered with gold.
An adventure. A story. A long lost, forgotten part of me.
And so, I called a friend.
The next morning, we were on our way to Wales.
The seven-hour journey flew by in an ultimate sense of flow.
We arrived at a quaint, quiet hostel high up on the hills. Sheep scattered their white wool; tiny snowdrops on a vast, barren land. A grey sky painted watercolor clouds, and deep, green trees sang and swayed as they gave way to the wind.
We sat quietly and observed. High ceilings and red carpets held the space of silence. The wind outside howled and stormed, brewed and bawled, concocting a frenzied feast for the night.
We drifted off to sleep in our new world. A no man’s land, which oddly felt like home.
We rose the next morning, with no clear plan but to simply wake and see where the wind would take us. Our eye lashes fluttered as we peered outside to see what surprises the storm had scattered and sown for us.
We chose to drive around the winding hills of wanderlust, each corner revealing yet another crystal blue lagoon, laced with grey slate and white sheets of snow.
We parked the car on the left-hand side of the road and looked up in appreciation. Our eyes glistened at the sight of rolling green fields, rusty iron gates, and trickling rivers gently cradled by bracken and boulders. A tiny, snow covered peak painted delicately, precariously and prettily, just waiting to be explored.
And so, we walked.
We walked and we walked and saw a lonely red hat, left and long forgotten. My boots stampeded the squelchy mud mashed with fresh fallen snow. We marched on.
I was determined to reach the top.
One hour into our climb I squealed with delight, “Look, we’re nearly there!”
“No,” he said. “That’s just the beginning.”
And he was right.
As we reached what I had thought was our peak, another higher, rockier, snowier mountain suddenly arose before our eyes.
“Oh,” I said.
And so, we continued to climb for hours and hours.
Much to my surprise, with every peak we reached, yet another one revealed itself. Each with its own intricate beauties—blue laced lagoons; pretty white blankets of pure, untrodden snow; higher heights with a dazzling white glow.
Three hours in, I finally realized my drive to reach each new peak was limiting my boundless joy.
The joy of climbing, the joy of tumbling. The joy of dancing, the joy of being.
The joy of appreciating, the here, the now, the moment.
I stopped and turned.
“I think that’s enough,” I said.
For once in my life. I didn’t want to reach the top. I didn’t want to conquer the next big challenge. I wanted to stop. I wanted to breathe. I wanted to play.
And so, we breathed.
We filled our pale pink lungs with cold, crisp air as we slipped and slid on sheets of ice. We looked at the highest height and laughed. We didn’t need to reach the top. What did we have to prove?
We had it all right here.
And so, we made our descent.
Slowly, lovingly, and longingly.
Appreciating every layer as if it were the last.
But this time, we didn’t just walk and walk and walk. We climbed, we ran, we hopped, we danced. We rolled, we sunk, we stepped, and we laughed.
The blue laced lagoons became sheer slate drops. The pretty white blankets became sludgy stained snow. The dazzling white glow dissolved into a land of green, bracken grass.
And it was all simply perfect.
We rolled down our final descent and laughed as we realized that in a land of a thousand acres, we had found the exact lonely red hat that had greeted us at the start.
We crept through the creaking iron gate and sat on a piece of solid, set stone.
And for the first time, I knew.
That the next big thing, the next best thing, the next mountaintop would always be ahead of us. And I realized how much of my life I had wasted. Wanting, waiting, striving. When all there ever really was, was really right here.
And in the right here, right now, everything was good.
No matter what the view.
There was always something to celebrate.
Every layer of our life is worth living.
Returning home from this trip, I reflected on my drive, my ambition, my constant search for success. And I realized, this search was, in fact, fueling an unsustainable state of health. On those vast lands, of everything and nothing, I had felt more energized, more free, and more in flow than I had in six long years. For the first time, I felt alive.
And so, I hope this story inspires you to simply stop striving. For this pattern has tainted so much of my beautiful life here on earth. Stopping the striving, and the endless soul searching, leaves space for our inner peace, our inner flow, our inner glow.
The mountains will always call us. Higher heights will always tempt us. Newer sights will always blind us. Yet, we have a choice. The choice to sacrifice our present for a future that may never come. Or to lovingly embrace our present as if it’s the only thing we know for sure we have—because it is.