2016 Sep 21
Two months ago I went on vacation with my family. One of the places we visited was Yosemite National Park. We spent a few days there enjoying the surroundings and exploring the mountain trails. One of those trails were long, difficult, and at a much higher elevation than where we live (lower oxygen saturation in the air). Nonetheless, we decided to start up that mountain - even with my hamstring torn from activities a couple days earlier. I was the only one in our group to make it all the way to the top fo various reasons. Along the way people were asking me if I was alright (my bruised leg was quite noticeable). I shared my story with those that inquired. The following day, while sitting at a viewpoint for one of the waterfalls, I reflected and wrote the following into my phone while I ate a lunch. I thought that some of you may enjoy the read:
Throughout my life time I've had opportunities to train in the martial arts. As a young child in grade school, I attended my first classes. I had learned many things that I didn't grasp the importance of until much later in life. During those years I simply found it as something fun to do.
The fun activity of my early years can be paralleled to the eagerness of climbing a mountain trail. Why start up the trail other than to do something you think may be fun or see a beautiful view.
Later, during my teen years, I found martial arts training to be more important than just doing something fun. There was a drive to want to do things correctly and draw attention to myself in hopes of praise.
This stage of the path became more difficult. The trail was not as well-traveled as where the trail head is. You begin to see where people have stopped to rest or even turn back to the bottom of the mountain.
As with the mountain trail, the martial arts path becomes more difficult. The easy climb suddenly begins to fatigue my body just like those "perfect" techniques I had been practicing. I no longer look for praise, but begin seeking criticism and correction. I look forward to see there is much more trail ahead and above and yearn for guidance and encouragement.
The path becomes quite strenuous, and I stop for a break. I think of the things I need to do to move ahead: catch my breath, get acclimated to the altitude, rest my body. During the rest periods in my training I continue to notice things I have learned show up in daily life- realizing it wasn't about the punching and kicking at all, those were just the tools to teach the lessons.
Rest time is over, and I find myself pushing harder than before. I talk with many people along the way, sharing my story and providing encouragement to help them reach their goals. I continue moving along the trail with more and more efficient motion with every step. I stop and rest for a short time at each opportunity to catch my breath and allow my movement time to regain efficiency. I spend time making noise and telling others around me that it's not much farther- just around the corner.
The goal is reached. The peak of the mountain under my feet. Some of those I encouraged along the way close by, others still climbing, even more have given up and turned back. I look around and smile, knowing that reaching this goal was only half of the struggle, the trail back to the begining is just as treacherous and has just as many lessons to learn along the way.
Reaching each goal in my martial arts training has been like climbing another mountain trail. While the "end" is reachable, there is always another end to strive for. Helping others along your path achieve the same goals you have set (past or present) reminds you of those that had done the same for you.
These are the pleasures that are often missed when ego becomes involved. Push yourself, but help others to come along with you. There is no true joy standing at the top of the mountain alone. If you ever find yourself unable to reach that next goal, give those around you a boost to help them advance beyond. Seeing someone complete a goal that you helped set them on is just as rewarding as completing the goal yourself