“After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.”
More hills. After the exhilaration of an immense victory the fact of even more hills either drives us onward or halts us momentarily in our exhaustion. Yet, it’s the skill of savouring the hill conquered; that’s the required wisdom. The challenges never really stop coming.
Mandela was certainly abundantly qualified to discharge this wisdom. The amount, substance and series of his hills—hills in quantum parallel—that he conquered is testament to perhaps the late Twentieth Century’s man of the moment; a leader who inspired not only a nation but the whole world.
We’re inspired to conquer our hills by those who’ve preceded us, like Mandela, and via those in our midst—those in the world who capture our imaginations now.
The truth is we never ‘get there.’ We never ultimately get to a place where we can truly put up our feet and give up on life indefinitely. Even “retirement” in the truest sense of the word doesn’t exist. There are still chores to be done and responsibilities to be discharged. There are still hills to climb. The moment we check out of life is the moment we’re ready to die—not good.
Now it’s true that whilst the hills can exhaust us, we have our opportunities too to rest and recuperate. When you feel hemmed in totally, remember that that hill that bears down on you now does have a peak and you’re imminently about to reach it—then comes the inevitable down-time. Patience is a great thing in distress; it’s a wonderful feeling to smile within ourselves knowing we held on and made it through in faith. Even better doing it in the moment of our trials!
The purpose of hills seems clear to me. We’ll see things as challenges because they are. We are so unique in our mindsets and approaches to life that we’re bound to be upset, even mildly, by people and circumstances—and these daily. Even if these upsets only ever occur in our minds and never become issues for others, our upsets (i.e. hills) are interminable. Acceptance is grounded patience to persist anyway.
Our hills are our character-building opportunities and we ought to be thankful for them. This might sound masochistic but it’s true.
It’s the only way we can learn strength of spirit and resilience to live life happily. Complaint in life is generally a great folly—a thing to be highly avoided. It gets us and our important others nowhere. Self-pity is “becoming,” truly, to none of us.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.