Beginning the Climb

Mount Rainier

by John Lane, photographer

What does it mean to climb a mountain? A figure of speech to many, we cannot really know what it’s like until after we have. A distant height beyond our present frame of reference: a reach that exceeds our grasp, to paraphrase Robert Browning. An idea we cannot allow ourselves to possess. An impossibility somehow rendered physical., if only we begin.

A mountain is perhaps about finding the courage to begin. It isn’t about knowing what we are getting into. If we knew what awaited us on any given day, chances are we wouldn’t get out of bed. Discovery requires that first small, uncertain step – a risk of sorts. We risk everything when we begin. To end the past, to say goodbye to familiarity, the comfort of complacency, and our identification with success and failure. Every new moment in which we choose to step forth is our moment. We take possession of our lives. We own our experience. If we will only begin, we will find that we already stand at the summit.

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