Defining the Hike

There is this drive some of us have to keep moving, or this need to achieve a set goal. This drive pushes us further and harder even if it is only to take one more step. When hiking with my kids I would tell them that you never stop in the middle of a climb and that they needed to look up at each section of the hike and try to find all the spots where the trail leveled out. Those level spots were resting areas and as thus created little goals to push for, and sometimes it really took some pushing. I suppose for some of us hiking is to see all the little things along the trail and for others it is to see what is on top of that mountain and to know we could reach it.

As little kids we received little awards and stickers and praise from all around us for every little accomplishment, and this made us learn that with each goal achieved we were better and everyone was pleased about it. The older we got the more we wanted those little stickers that said “Super Star” and such but instead we get less applause and a simple pat on the shoulder and a “good job”. This evolution of what motivates this drive within us changes as we become adults when even a simple “good job” is rare. This drive changes from what we feel other people want us to achieve to what we seek deep within ourselves as to where we want our lives to be. Unfortunately, we are certainly harder on ourselves than anyone else ever will be.

Our goals of transitioned from a simple spelling of Cat and Dog to “where to I see my life in ten years” and what our definition of “success” and “happiness” are. To add to the pressure of trying to achieve our adult goals, many of us have the happiness and success of others to think about and with each step we take brings them closer to their desired goals. At times trying to please these on our coat-tails causes us to set aside or lose sight of our personal requirements and we tend to find it harder to see the “resting areas” or “level spots” so we start stopping in the middle of the climb and find it much harder to get moving again. Essentially we lose sight of what it was we were climbing for and lose the drive that was pushing us.

As difficult as it is to keep pushing forward and to keep focused on were we want to be, there are so many obstacles and hazards along the way. It seems that there will always be something that tries to slow us down or block our path and we must be able to figure out a way around, through, or over this thing that is trying to stop us. Sometimes it seems that with every obstacle overcome someone or something puts another one in  place. Sometimes it feels as if someone is always changing the rules of the game and doesn’t want to play fair. When we struggled to hike up that steep incline and finally reach the top we only see that it is only a false summit and we must go even further and push harder to actually reach the top, and that too may only be an illusion.

You know that feeling when the elevator is broken and you must climb the stairs and as you do you follow the numbers to each floor. With each door and the number on it you can gauge how many more flights you have left and how much more you must push yourself. Now imagine as you get closer to your desire floor and someone starts changing the floor numbers from 1,2,&3 to 3a,3b,3c,&3d or even 4, 4 1/2, and 4 3/4. A sinking feeling can be felt and you begin doubting whether or not you can do it. The questions arise of whether or not we can actually reach every goal we have or was reaching the goal even the point to begin with? In addition, who is actually making our travels harder and why are they making it so unfair? Finally, with each additional floor needed to climb and each false summit to conquer we begin to ask ourselves why? why even bother? We can just stop and sit in middle of the climb and watch everyone else push by. This is the point in our lives that we learned that we are not going to be either successful or happy.

Sometimes we forget the meaning of Success and confuse it with Happiness, and we don’t realize that each of these words are independent of each other and their defining moments are not found in some book they are made by us. Happiness is what we create and success is what we make and although each of these can create the other both of these desires stand alone. We need to learn that when we start to climb that mountain we will face many obstacles and may in fact have to change our path. We need to know that with each summit we overcome there may be others that need to be reached. This climb will be full of slippery slopes and loose rocks and there will certainly be someone or something that will ensure that the path will not be easy. At times the way will seem dark and the end may be out of reach but we must learn not to stop in the middle of the incline and that there are better spots to rest. We must learn that success may be at the top or the end of the path but happiness can be found along the way if we can find the ability to focus on all the little things along the way.

Maybe we just need to go find a booklet of those “Good Job” and “Your Doing Great“stickers and when it seems to get tough and we want to stop just start placing these stickers there so we can get that little bit of the feeling as if we are achieving something. We can leave those stickers along the way to show others that we struggled as well and we moved on. Maybe when we reach the end we need to write a note that says “success is out there you just need to keep pushing further and you will find it because I made it” and throw that note back down the mountain so it floats back down on the trail where all the obstacles are.

Know this that life is hard and at times unfair for all of us and the only true definition of success and happiness is through your own perception not that of others, and each of these desires can be independent of each other. Don’t stop in the middle of the climb because it will be much harder to find the motivation to push further if you do.