Let's do a quick survey: when one climbs a mountain, what does one expect to see at the top? Yes, that is correct. Grandeur. Miles of glorious scenery. Wide open spaces where one can feel limitless and free.
Today, I climbed a mountain. Do you know what I found at the top? Trees. More trees.
Now, is that not a better analogy? Trudging and bushwhacking through miles of uphill and overgrowth, only to get to the "top" and find more of the forest?
I understand and embrace the analogy of mountaintops/valleys - how glorious the view, that endless sea of beauty, is after blindly feeling our way through the darkest of valleys.
These are incredibly rare moments. And when they show up, I find them to be brief. Their brevity does not take away from how amazing or needed those moments may be. I am really not a complete cynic here, but I am a realist: these moments are rare.
I climbed a mountain today. I reached the top and saw a ridge line of forest. Sat down on a rock, slightly disappointed. I mean, how dare this mountain offer me such limited views?! I invested my time and energy today into climbing up a steep, rocky trail and I need my mountaintop experience! Did I not work for this?
Then, something miraculous happened: I started looking around. Really looking. The waves in the formation of the rock resembled great sand dunes of the American west. I was the only person here, but the land was alive with insects, winds and small animals rustling in the evergreens. At least five different shades of green in the moss under my fingers. The reds and yellows of the trees in fiery contrast to the grey clouds moving swiftly overhead.
Details. Small victories. All around.
Were it not for the forest, would I have noticed the trees? No!
A cheesy play on phrasing, yes, but I felt and I still feel its truth deep in my bones. Whatever beauty or encouragement I find in the present - perhaps, only in my peripherals - is worth acknowledging. Even embracing.
Yes, details. Small victories. All around.