Yesterday I took the dog on my favorite hike, one that rewards a climb with a tremendous view. You can see for miles — farmland below and mountains in the distance, a view that stretches across more than 5 towns.
But an early fog rolled in and when we got to the top, this is what we saw…
Big, puffy clouds obscured the view. The entire scene, shrouded.
It was strange, being on foot but above the clouds, like looking out of an airplane window.
It was beautiful in its own right, but not what I had come to see. Even the dog was confused.
And it got me thinking about the meaning of the experience, as I tend to do when I hike. It’s one of the reasons Why I Walk – the creative energies that build with each step.
And now, in these clouds.
Here’s what I took away, that I’d like to share with you:
We climb to get to the top, thinking that everything will be clear once we get there.
But sometimes it’s not.
Sometimes it doesn’t look anything like what we expected.
And we wonder, was the climb worth the effort?
Where do I go from here?
What am I looking for?
How do I find my way if I can no longer see where I’m going?
Our path isn’t always clear. But if you want to get somewhere, you can’t stay in one place. You have to Start with a Single Step and then Take Another One even when you’re not sure where you’re headed.
I saw other things on this hike. Just ahead, by a rock easily four stories high, was a group of fire fighters doing a training exercise.
A series of ropes assisted the climber to the top. At the bottom, a half-dozen other people secured the ropes, allowing the climber to proceed safely and belay when ready.
And it got me thinking about our preparation and support. And the need for a solid Cast of Supporting Characters at every stage of our lives.
When you can’t see what’s ahead, who is secure enough to walk with you rather than stay safely behind on familiar ground?
The entire hike is a loop and takes just under an hour, more if I allow my dog to stop and sniff every leaf and bush at will. By the time we circled back to head down, something amazing happened.
The fog had begun to lift.
What was once shrouded in cloud was now far easier to see – farmland and buildings below, trees and mountains in the distance.
From this vantage point, one could actually see for miles.
The vista was now clear.
What are the rewards of a climb?
How do you power forward when you can’t see where you are going?
Who walks with you?
The path is different for all of us. Wherever you are today, or wherever you are headed tomorrow, I hope that your view is clear.
And if it is not, I hope you will find unexpected beauty… even in the clouds.
Valerie Gordon is a lifelong storyteller, writer and speaker. The founder of career and communications strategy firm Commander-in-She, she helps women with the skills and tools necessary to succeed at all levels of work. Find out how your organization can benefit from a Commander-in-She presentation by clicking HERE.