Monday, November 27, 2006

Climb Your Mountain

Someone once came up to me to ask for writing advice. Or at least I thought that’s what the person was asking for. I was flattered to be considered an expert, and threw myself into an encouraging lecture about bravery and technique. I was like a mountain climber, explaining how it’s possible to transform yourself from a couch potato to an outdoorsman.

After feeling that I’d shared many pearls of wisdom, empowering the aspiring writer to draft her book about foster parenting, she ended the conversation with, “I think you should write this book.”

I was flabbergasted. She hadn’t wanted me to point the way up the mountain. She’d been trying to hand me her backpack.

Here’s my advice to myself and others who sometimes am tempted to hand our hiking gear to others and ask them to make the trek through life for us: If you spend your life trying to get out of work, you spend almost as much energy as you would if you did the work, and you end up with nothing to show for that energy.

When I’m feeling lazy or discouraged, I remind myself that the journey isn’t supposed to be easy:

  • John the Baptist devoted his whole life to being God’s spokesman, only to languish in prison and then be brought out and beheaded.
  • Joseph resisted the Pharaoh’s wife’s advances, but his reward was to be thrown into prison for years and years. Even after he translated the baker’s dream and the baker promised to get him out of prison, the baker forgot to help him.
  • Abraham was told that his descendants would number the stars, and then his wife was barren for years and years.

Do NOT wait for someone to rescue you. Do NOT try to hire sherpas to do your climbing for you. Do NOT sit in your tent only a few feet from base camp, bemoaning the fact that no one gives you any praise for making it part way up the hill. If you’ve chosen to climb mountains, then CLIMB.

Photo: Panda at the Beijing Zoo, China, July 2006