This can be such a flow killer. Because you can not achieve flow if you do not even begin. The blank page is a void that at times can seem impossible to fill. My biggest sin is giving it too much weight. My mind tells me the words need to be profound and meaningful or nothing. Nothing.
“Nothing” does get me down the road. It does not get me closer to the mountaintop. I think a lot about mountain tops. Pinnacles. Zeniths. Most of us never reach a single mountain top in our lives. Most of us do not even try.
A mountain top in this context is a great achievement. Think of an Olympic Gold Medal. For many athletes, this is one of the highest mountains in their careers. In life though we must often define our own mountain tops. Over ten years ago I wrote a short piece titled, “Mountain Tops,” and I have still yet to achieve one.
What would a mountain top be for me? Publishing a book. Reaching 1 million subscribers on YouTube. Making a living from my own content.
When I think about that is what all my dreams and goals come down to. Making a thriving living off of my own creations. My own content. Writing, video, photography, or art. All are in my realm of interest. When I do not have clients, I just have sales and we are able to comfortably travel anywhere in the world at any time we choose, I know I’ve reached MY mountain top.
Ah but the path is not on any map. There is no trail. This is a backcountry adventure because this is my mountain and only mine. Only I can see it. Each day it is up to me to move one step closer to that goal. But this land is cursed and I have yet to find the strength to overcome that curse. The curse of course is distraction.
Everywhere I look there are other mountain tops and cozy little oases that seduce my eyes away from my goals. Comfort calls me and with age, it is so much more appealing to stay comfortable. Discomfort needs to be actively sought after and actually savored. Discomfort is what everyone who has ever climbed a mountain has experienced.
There is not enough discomfort in my life.
This is why I have again begun the habit of writing. Not just writing but also hitting that “publish” button. To take small steps into discomfort. To get to know the unknown once again. There was a time it came so naturally to me. With age though the gravitational pull of the couch and the tv got stronger. And don’t get me started on winter. I hate that cold weather dominates my life the way it does. It is my kryptonite. Dark days and low temperatures became thin-walled prisons. Why? Because they equal discomfort.
I will make no bold proclamations.
I have come to believe that change happens through small steps. Through small changes. Through tiny new habits and that is why I am working on it. As I enter late December it is easy to make those bold proclamations heading into the New Year. But really it is about making little changes today and tomorrow. That is how I will get to my mountain top.
Life is short. Very short. And it goes by fast. Today is a gift. This breath is a gift. This moment contains the whole universe in it. All clichés because they are all true. How easy is it to waste a moment? We seem to have so many of them. They seem so common that it takes effort to see just how special they are. Like so much we do not see just how special they are until they are gone.
Think of someone you’ve lost. Time with them is gone forever. How much would you pay to get even a moment back with them? What must we do to keep the value of life in focus? For me, writing helps. It is a meditation. Even when it gets a bit rambly like it is now. But what is important is that my mind is moving. I am putting words on a page. Starting without a clear focus is still starting and even though I began not knowing what to write I’ve now written three pages of words.
I am now once again reminded of my mountain top.
Mountain Tops (22SEP2012)
Quickly after waking up I rekindled the fire and brewed some coffee. The morning air was chilly but already hinted at the heat the day’s sun would bring. As my mind began to emerge from my grogginess I noticed a mountain in the distance. A beautiful form rising to a majestic peak silhouetted against the dawn.
I sipped my coffee and imagined what it would be like to stand on that peak. Of how I would feel after making the climb and how great the view must be from up there. It did not take me long to decide I wanted to climb that mountain. In fact, I finished my coffee, broke camp, and quickly packed up my things to head for it right away. The mountain was very tall and very far away, I had no idea how long it would take me to even reach the foot of it. But that did not matter, I did not care how tall or how far away that mountain was I knew I had to climb it. I belonged on top of that mountain. So I began walking, starting my journey toward the mountain.
Along the way, I started to acquire things that caught my eye. One by one I added them to my pack which grew heavier as my journey went on. I also noticed things along the path that required small detours so that I could check them out. Some days I did not even look at my mountain.
One afternoon I noticed another mountain. It looked taller and more impressive than the mountain I noticed at the beginning of my journey. Without much thought, I changed direction and headed toward the newly discovered mountain. It was really far away and in a new direction but I just knew it was really the mountain for me. Thus a new journey began.
This new path also had many interesting things for me to pick up along the to stuff into my pack. So much so that I had to add smaller packs and pouches to contain all the trinkets I was acquiring. My pace slowed as the burden grew.
On a late afternoon, I spotted a whole new mountain range. And it was in that range I saw the perfect peak, even better than the first two. Again I changed my path so that I could head to the new mountain. The first one that caught my eye was completely forgotten.
I can not remember how long I’ve been doing this. Wondering around in the low plains from place to place being pulled by mountain top after mountain top. I keep switching mountains because I am afraid if I commit to one mountain I will miss out on something another mountain has to offer. But now long into this journey of going in circles, I am awakening to the fact that I have never been to the summit of a single mountain. Decades of mountain chasing and not a single mountain caught.
It is not just other mountains that distract me but also things along the path as well. The trinkets and the jesters pull me from the path. At times I forget I am even trying to get to a mountain. And then there are the people who tell me I am crazy to even want to climb a mountain. They speak of dangers and impossibility. Their talk slows me down.
The really strange thing is that through all this I can somehow maintain the illusion of progress. For so long I’ve felt that I am moving towards a mountain but after all this time all the mountains I have sought still remain in the distance. I am still down here in the flat and safe plains. I still can’t tell you what the view is like from the top of a single mountain.
But for all my wondering the mountains still catch my eye. Even though I have yet to reach a peak I still believe I can and I something in me knows I am meant to. As I write this my eyes are fixed on a peak, a mountain in the distance. One that I am moving towards every day now. This time I am going to get to that summit or die trying. Even if I see other more attractive mountains I will keep moving toward this one, I will keep it in front of me.
Now I also work to lighten my load. To drain my pack of anything that does not help me get to the top of that mountain. Detours are not an option, it is this path or no path. I ignore those who will not help me reach that peak. I wake looking at that mountain because I fall asleep with my head pointed toward it.
I do know that it may be the wrong mountain. And I may be disappointed when I reach the top. That does not matter. I’ve decided it is better to get to the top of the wrong mountain than to never get to the top of any mountain. I take comfort in knowing the top of any mountain offers a view and a perspective that can not be had in the lowlands.