“You never conquer a mountain. You stand on the summit a few moments; then the wind blows your footprints away.” ~ Arlene Blum, Breaking Trail …
There is a transitory nature to life–everything has a beginning and an end, nothing lasts forever. And even our greatest successes, most cherished accolades, and most celebrated accomplishments will pass from our present moments. We often think that we have made a lasting impression on things in life, but in reality, we have only made temporary ones that will not last forever–and this is perfectly ok, for we are impermanent fixtures in this world that we’re only meant to dwell here for a single lifetime.
In truth, we do not conquer objects such as mountains–perhaps we conquer our fears of climbing them, or our limitations or preconceived notions of them, but we cannot actually “conquer” a mountain. And this deeper understanding of our temporary condition of living allows us to discover the significance of having dreams and desires, setting goals, and overcoming adversity and hardships in our lives. But we have to be able to let go of the need to always conquer, to battle against people and things and always come out the victor. So much of life is about harmony–about letting go of the desire to compete, of cooperating with those around us, of working with the things we have available to us and enjoying their presence in our lives; and the journey through life is often much more pleasant and fulfilling when we can enjoy what the “mountains” have to offer us: beauty and insight to deepen our connection with life, challenges and obstacles to inject vitality into our souls and help us grow stronger, and experiences and memories that help remind us of our purpose in life–of why we are on this planet.
Even if we only get to stand on the peak for a brief moment in time, or we do not make it to the peak at all, we can still grow, gain from the experience, and become a better version of ourselves than we were yesterday. And to be honest, it really does us little good to think in terms of “conquering” anything in life, as that alone, does not necessarily promote growth. Perhaps what might help even more is for us to try to wipe away our tracks once we have climbed the mountain and leave no mention of our being there. After all, the growth is in the journey and the experience, not in letting others know what we 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, Above the Clouds: The Diaries of a High-Altitude Mountaineer