This is literally a true mountain-climbing story that changed my life forever. You see, in my lifetime, I’ve always loved to climb. I started by climbing the tallest trees, then much to my parent’s dismay, I began climbing the tallest of our farm silos at a very young age. It should come as no surprise then, that by my college years, I was into my life-long love of rock-climbing and mountain-climbing. In fact, just a few years ago, my son and I climbed to the top of Devils Tower in Wyoming which is a 1200 foot vertical and technically difficult climb to be sure. It was a different climb, that defined a direction in my life and changed me forever.
I had always wanted to see Alaska, so at only the age of 21, I packed my camping gear into a back-pack, flew to Alaska, rented a car, then all by myself, I back-packed and hiked all throughout the Alaskan wilderness. One evening, about 6 pm, I saw a beautiful snow-capped mountain out in the distance and at that moment, I made the decision to climb that mountain. Several hours later I was exhausted and plunked down in defeat. The summit lay more than an hour straight up and I was trying to convince myself to quit. After all, no one would ever know that I hadn’t reached my goal. EXCEPT ME! With all the energy, I could muster, I fought my way to the summit of that magnificent mountain peak. At that moment, I felt more invincible than ever before and it changed my outlook on life forevermore.
What would have happened if I’d quit and not reached the summit? Who would have known? Who would have cared anyway? As I share this story with you, I completely believe that had I quit on myself on that lonely, isolated mountain; had I chosen to stumble back down those treacherous slopes before reaching my objective, I believe that who I am and the life I was to eventually lead would have been changed in the wrong direction forever.
As each of you prepares to move on through your own lives, think about being true to yourselves. I challenge you to stay on target and keep working to reach your own designated mountain-tops. We all know of others who failed, and we all know of others who headed back down that mountain without reaching the true summit. For those of you who have reached this summit, you will find that there are endless mountain ranges out there in life needing to be conquered.
Live for the thrill!