I’ve spent a lot of time these past few years looking for perspective in my life. I put a lot of stock in perspective. With the right perspective, any problem is manageable, any idea comprehendible, any opportunity useable. It’s all about being at peace with yourself, others, and the world, even when circumstances might make you totally unwilling or seemingly incapable of achieving repose.
On Saturday, we climbed Guagua Pichincha, a huge active volcano. Incredibly amazing experience, and a good hike to boot. For reference, I’ve never climbed a mountain, much less a volcano, before. Ever. So getting to the top, that summit, so many thousands of feet high, was mind-blowing. Or, perhaps more eloquently put, enlightening.
When your hands are cold, your nose is running, the wind is howling past you, and you look absolutely ridiculous in a toboggan with sparkles in it, it’s amazing how easy it is to think about your life, and how far away from it you feel. A good distance, a healthy distance. When you’re struggling to learn the language, and just beginning to feel the tug of apprehension at your heartstrings, the first seeds of worry that you might not be as capable as you thought, there’s a single, blinding moment of clarity when you’re on top of a mountain.
You can see where you’ve already been, at least until the clouds begin to get in the way. You can see other peaks off in the distance, some taller, some smaller, all waiting. Find the metaphor: it’s not that hard. But beside that silly, overused metaphor is something a lot more important. Oh yeah. You climbed a mountain. And now that you’re here, taking a little break, lying flat on your back, fifteen thousand feet up, eyes staring up into a cold, cloudy sky, it seems rather obvious that you’re exactly the kind of person who’s supposed to do ridiculously adventurous things like go volunteer in Ecuador for seven months, and that just because something is difficult doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing, and you’re every bit capable of learning a language and knowing everything there is to know about coffee. Why? Because you just climbed a mountain, and the view from the top is magnificent, even though it’s cloudy, because climbing a mountain doesn’t just change the view you see with your eyes, but the perspective you hold in your heart and mind.