The Truth About Mountains: You Can Climb Them

Category: Be Inspired

The landscape of our lives is one of both peaks and valleys, comprised of sunny skies and rocky storms. There is no way to have one without the other, so we must welcome the challenges that line the pathway to the lives we want to lead. If it was easy, everyone would do it.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about sometimes we see mountains, and they stop us in our tracks. Our feet seem to grow roots, and we are unable to move. We come to the base of a mountain, and we think “well I guess this is where I live now.” We don’t think we can make the climb.

Along the same lines, I’ve always seen subliminal messages about mountains, revealing their secrets, showing me the path, beckoning me forward, no matter how unsure my footing. Maybe you’ve seen them too, as a couple of them have come from popular movies. Here are 5 messages that have been preparing us for our mountains all along. We all hold more cards than we think we do.

“No matter how the wind howls, the mountain cannot bow to it.”
– Disney Movie: Mulan

This quote is from the Disney animated movie Mulan, and it has always stuck with me. You may take this to mean that the mountain is getting out of your way, no matter what you do. But what if in this narrative, you are the mountain? Suddenly you have a competitive advantage. You are the one who is strong, you are the one who is steadfast, you are the one on solid ground. You do not worry about the change in the wind, because you know that at the end of the day you are okay and you cannot be moved. Mountains are solid, and they take up space unapologetically. Perhaps your footing is more stable than you think. Maybe you need to trust yourself that you got this, and I’m saying this one mountain to another. You were meant to be here and take up space. Some questions to ask yourself as they relate to this quote: How can you be more comfortable taking up space? What does it mean to be unapologetically yourself?

“You are a match for your mountain”
– Danielle Doby

I was reading the book I Am Her Tribe, a collection of poetry by Danielle Doby, when I stumbled upon a page that contained this single line: “You are a match for your mountain.” And that was it. A full-page that was blank except for this one line, powerful, the author invites you to pause and reflect on these words, on this statement, this fact, that she intentionally placed alone on the page. According to Google Books, I Am Her Tribe is a collection of poetry drawing on the viral Instagram handle and online hashtag that serves to create moments of connection through empowerment and storytelling. Focusing on inspiration, Doby’s poetry invites its reader to “Come as you are. Your tribe has arrived. Your breath can rest here.”

You as you are, are a match for your mountain. Everybody’s mountain is different, but they are mountains nonetheless, so they require us to climb. You already have what it takes (inside of you, around you) to conquer this mountain. You are a perfect match. You need only to put one foot in front of the other and begin the climb.

“When you see the elephant, begin the climb.”
– Movie: Jumanji

Is it strange that I equate “elephant” to “mountain” in this quote? Let me explain why. This is a simple line from the first in the new series of Jumanji movies. The premise of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is four high school kids discover an old video game console and are drawn into the game’s jungle setting, literally becoming the adult avatars they chose. What they discover is that you don’t just play Jumanji – you must survive it. To beat the game and return to the real world, they’ll have to go on the most dangerous adventure of their lives, discover what Alan Parrish left 20 years ago, and change the way they think about themselves – or they’ll be stuck in the game forever.

One of the clues, as they are on their adventure, is “when you see the elephant, begin the climb.” And they take it to be a metaphor for something. This line left a mark on me, and I sometimes repeat when I’m about to go up a steady incline, thinking to myself “it’s when you see the mountain that you begin the climb,” and that everything I’ve been doing before was just preparation for this moment. The climb is when you put your skills to the test. The climb is when you find out what you’re made of. The climb is where the magic is. We can’t be afraid of the climb, or the mountain (or the elephant, for that matter). When we see the obstacle, that’s when we start to work our way around (or over, or through) it.

“Life is about courage and going into the unknown.”
– Movie: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

In the movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, when his job along with that of his co-worker are threatened, Walter takes action in the real world embarking on a global journey that turns into an adventure more extraordinary than anything he could have ever imagined. There has been some criticism about this movie, how it bends time for much of Walter’s journey, but I think that in the grand scheme of things maybe time doesn’t matter as much as we think it does.

I’ve come into this notion especially with travel, where I’ve on more than one occasion come to terms with the fact that the world does not hurry along at the same pace as life in the US. In fact, life and time and people are cherished, savored, and in most places, there is no rush for anything. Another thing that travel has taught me, is damn my plans. Plot your course perfectly and you’re bound to veer off track. Life, quite literally, is all about the things that happen off track that we did not plan for, and how we handle those situations. Do we dive in and make the best of the situation, or do we cower away and hold tight to the plan that slipped through our fingers like sand? Plans are important, but they are not set in stone, and sometimes we’re faced with the unknown. But if you really think about it, so much about our lives and our future could easily fall into the category of unknown. The question is, do you have the courage to step forward anyway? I think you do.

“You are not in the mountains. The mountains are in you.”
-John Muir

John Muir, also known as “John of the Mountains” and “Father of the National Parks”, was an influential Scottish-American naturalist, author, environmental philosopher, glaciologist, and early advocate for the preservation of wilderness in the United States of America. John Muir also has some of the best words out there about mountains.

This is one of my favorite quotes of his because it addresses the mountains inside us. I think he meant that nature is very much a part of us, more so than we give it credit for. The nature you see around you is the same nature that exists inside you. Even more so, I think that we all have mountains inside us. The mountains you see outside are a reflection of the mountains you have inside, and the work that you have to do to overcome them and become the best version of yourself. If there is turmoil happening in your exterior world, there is likely also some inner turmoil that is calling for your attention. What have you not been paying attention to in your life? What mountain stirs inside you, and what can you draw on within you to help you climb?

Mountains truly are majestic beings. They represent so much power and stillness in their presence alone. Hopefully, when you see one, you don’t shy away. You trust yourself, you trust what you have around you, and you prepare for the climb.

Cover photo by Nitish Meena on Unsplash