Watching the old mountaineer gear up, it was hard not to appreciate the results from a lifetime of habit. Hands moved deftly as each piece of well worn kit was placed exactly where it had to be.
The student was eager to learn all he could and climb the massive mountains around them. Mustering up some courage, the student readied the words to explain what had been on his mind.
‘Sir, if I dedicate myself to improving my abilities, how long until I am as qualified and experienced as you?’
The old mountaineer pauses, fingers touching his beard as he contemplates.
‘Seven years’ he responds.
The student, expecting as much for he knew it was a difficult path, sought further guidance.
‘What if I double my efforts and train more than everyone else? How long then?’
The old mountaineer once again contemplates the matter before replying.
‘Twelve years’ he says.
The student is now confused. He tries yet again.
‘And what if I triple my efforts, train day and night, live, think, and breathe of nothing else! How long would it take?’
The old mountaineer thinks deeply this time and after a long pause, he answers.
The student is now frustrated.
‘Sir, why is it that the harder I say I will dedicate myself and the more effort I put in, the longer it will take? Should my increased effort not be rewarded with swift mastery?’
The old mountaineer’s mouth twitches with a hint of a smile and he leans in close to the student as if he were about to reveal the greatest secret of all time.
And he says,
‘When there is one eye on the destination, there is only one eye left with which to find the way.’
Whether we are hiking, climbing, exploring caves or descending canyons, it’s important to enjoy the process of learning and progressing. We can get so wrapped up in grades, times, gear and destinations and forget the passion we initially had for our chosen outdoor pursuit.
I'm guilty of this.
Sometimes, I want to get better at climbing so much that I forget about the fun I have when I don’t care about being better. I want to go to those far flung destinations like all the professional adventurers do. But then I forget about the awesome places in my own backyard.
So no matter what you do, always remember to enjoy the journey!