“You never conquer a mountain. You stand on the summit a few moments; then the wind blows your footprints away.” – Arlene Blum
For all things there is a beginning and an end… nothing lasts forever. I love Arlene’s complete acceptance of the idea of the transitory nature of all that we do, even our most vaunted accomplishments. No matter what we do, eventually the wind, the rain, and the sun will wash away all indication that we have ever been where we have been at all. We may think that we have made a lasting mark, but really, we have made a temporary mark that will not last forever–and this is ok, for we are not meant to be permanent fixtures on this planet.
I think that we tend to adopt certain vocabulary simply because it is convenient and because we have not really thought about what things mean in any deep and significant manner. The truth is, though, that people do not conquer things like mountains–we may conquer our fears in order to climb them, or our limitations or our preconceived notions, but we certainly cannot “conquer” a mountain.
Can I leave behind the need to conquer, to battle against and to always defeat? Can I just work with, cooperate with, and enjoy the company of instead? To me, climbing a mountain is much more fun if I enjoy the journey and all that the mountain offers me: beauty, challenges, and obstacles that help me to grow stronger. Even if I do not make it to the peak, I can still gain much from the experience.
In the end, I feel that I am fine with standing at the peak for a while, and then letting the wind wipe away any trace that I have ever been there. I do not make myself a better person by using the word “conquer.” Why not try to not even leave a trace–just wipe away my tracks before I leave, and not tell anyone that I climbed it. The growth is in the journey and the experience, not in making sure that others know what I have done.
Find acceptance with the transitory nature of life.
Questions to consider:
Why do we use so many words like “conquer” in our vocabulary? Are those words accurate?
From where do we get the urge to “defeat” and subjugate? Why is it important to us to have the sense of having defeated someone or something?
Is it a negative thing that the “wind blows your footprints away?”
For further thought:
“Mountains are not Stadiums where I satisfy my ambition to achieve, they are the cathedrals where I practice my religion.” – Anatoli Boukreev