I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I’ve been living in Southern California now for almost six months and just yesterday went for my first hike. It turned out to be an amazing experience and also provided me with the inspiration for today’s short post; needless to say, I will be making this a habit going forward.
Despite the fact that the trail was not even a full two miles, it was literally uphill the entire way, which made it far more challenging than I was prepared for. I have to mention that I work out quite frequently and I’m not bragging here, but I’m definitely in better shape than the average person.
Shortly after I began the steep uphill trek, people began whizzing by me on the narrow, rocky trail. And many of them were not even dressed appropriately for an easy hike, (wearing jeans, dress shoes, and other attire that was better suited for a casual Friday in the office) let alone a grueling two-mile climb!
Seeing them blow by with their confident strides caused me to begin doubting myself. I wondered silently, “why are they all in such a hurry? Do they know something about the trail that I do not? Maybe I should pick up the pace to avoid being here all day…etc.”
But I didn’t speed up. I just kept on trucking at my steady, slow-ish pace. Even so, I started questioning whether I could finish the hike as I was a admittedly a bit winded by the time I’d reached the 1/4 mile marker! Another mile and a half to go….
At this point however, I decided that I was committed to finishing. I told myself that if all of these other people could do it, so could I. And so I kept going. And going. And something interesting happened.
When I began getting closer to the summit, maybe around the one-mile marker, the level of difficulty continued to increase as the trail became even steeper and narrower, winding up the boulder-lined hill.
To my surprise, I suddenly started passing some of the people who had “left me in the dust” earlier. Then I passed some more. I saw many of them huffing and puffing, taking breaks to catch their breath, meanwhile I kept on keeping on.
After nearly an hour of walking uphill with no breaks, drenched in sweat and with quads on fire, my dedication paid off. I had reached the summit and sat down for a few minutes to take in the breathtaking views (and to catch my breath!).
San Diego is gorgeous from sea level, and it only gets better from way up above. Although the summit of Cowles Mountain stands at only 1,591 high, it provides sweeping views of the Pacific ocean, downtown SD, and even Mexico to the south.
But this post isn’t about the views, it’s about life.
The obvious point I’m trying to make, is of course that life is a marathon, not a sprint.
Too many people are in such a rush to get to the weekend, or their upcoming vacation, or ten years from now when they can finally retire. Or maybe even just the top of the mountain.
When we are solely focused on the future however, we oftentimes forget to enjoy the present.
So on this beautiful Friday afternoon, wherever you may be, please remember to stop and smell the flowers.
Take a deep breath and ‘just be’.
And finally, remember – life is not a race. I can say with absolute certainty, that you do not get a prize, trophy, or any benefit at all for finishing first 🙂
Cheers and have a great weekend!