By Alexander Garrett
There is something about a mountain that really captures me. What I love about mountains is that they’re not dependent on the forces of nature. What I mean to say is, weather does not dictate the lifetime or health of a mountain. They are merely sculpted by wind, water and climate.
All the harsh elements play an important role in giving a mountain its stunning stature and appearance. Every single jagged edge was created with intent, and every peak comes with a story worth a thousand words.
As week one of my time in Macao came to a close, Andrés and I hopped into a rental car with 4 other guests and drove 45 minutes across the Dominican countryside. Our destination: Montaña Redonda. One of the Dominican Republics many beautiful mountains overlooking the coast.
The Auxiliary cord did not work, the bluetooth broken and the only CD in the car stuck in the CD machine. Nevertheless, you can never go wrong with a little Marc Anthony in your life.
We pulled up to the bottom of the mountain where we payed a small fee to the park rangers. We were given the option to hitch a ride in their jeep to the top of the mountain…
I know, I was offended when they asked me that as well. Every single mountain should to be earned through an honest hike.
However, I wasn’t shocked when a group of tourists in a truck did drive by us.
“Cheaters!” I called out to them as we exchanged smiles. But seriously though… cheaters.
The mountain, sitting just under a dozen miles from the northern coast of the island, was a breathe of fresh air. It was my first glimpse of the Dominican country side, and I was enamored with the peaceful energy as the wind blew in my hair. The sun was hot on my neck and sweat dribbled down my face, but the scent of fresh earth, plants and livestock stimulated my senses. Birds flew and conversed in the distance, their language tickling my ears as we scaled the mountain. No talking and no music. The only interruption from plants swaying in the wind and singing birds was heavy breathing from other travelers.
However this didn’t bother me. Rather, it was a reminder that we were all collectively working for this view. Nothing worth while comes free.
There are no words to describe the overwhelming feeling of finally reaching a mountain top. Anyone who has reached a mountain top before knows words escape you when you first look out over its edge. Whether is was a 30 minute hike to reach your peak or a 3 day trek, we all experience similar emotions. There comes a time when we all look at the top and get discouraged when it seems to not get any closer. We climb on, sometimes picking up our pace and missing a few clumsy steps along the way, but that damn peak moves not.
It is in these moments that one must put their head down and focus on each step directly in front of them, making sure the placement of their foot is as efficient as possible. Our mind wanders, the sounds grow clearer and the scents stronger. You soon notice each and every drop of sweat that rolls down your forehead, and begin to appreciate it all the more. Weakness, fear, doubt leaving the body. This is when life begins to move in real time.
There is much to be learned from a mountain, no matter how big or small it is. We all struggle with different aspects of our lives, but it would be ignorant to compare our problems with one another from a numerical standpoint. We all fight to reach our own peaks in different ways. But one thing that will always remain constant is the process. You won’t win if you don’t climb, nor will you make it by skipping steps and keeping your eyes fixed on the top.
Slow down. Take each step with care and use it to make your next move more efficient.
Reaching a goal always comes with a price. Whether its a mountain overlooking the Caribbean Sea or a period of confusion or turmoil in your life, the process must go on. Climb everyday and appreciate the small lessons. There is no peak that is too high to climb, humanity proves that over and over again. However, there are definitely steps that are too large to take. This is the confusion. If you put your head down and do what you do best, the steps, obstacles and roadblocks begin to blur together. They become manageable.
Focus not on the peak. It will come when it will come. The timing matters not; what matters is the valuable lessons, steps and teachable moments along the way. If you enjoy the process, you’ll grow from the journey.
Love to live and live to love.