Life is like a mountain, the masses of people are at the bottom, the few who distinguish themselves are at the top. Masses run from ascending, the few bold ones runs to the peak at great expense. The outstanding few who will stand at the apogee will endure hardship, forsake many life pleasures and summons something deep within them that is higher than the mountain before them to enable them reach the zenith.
I wrote the above paragraph on a doodle note on my Ipad long before the thought of writing this book crossed my mind. At least until late one Friday afternoon, in the dark of winter, when one of the support staff at the public law firm where I worked in the Pacific Northwest, noticed me lugged around tomes of books on rock climbing tapped me on the shoulder and inquire what I intend to do with all those books on a subject I had hardly exhibit any interest in before then. I was a bit nonplussed but then I looked up and explained to her that each time I look back at my life I felt like someone climbing an insurmountable mountains. She looked at me deadpanned, turned around and walked silently away. She came back a couple of hours later, and quietly asked me if I am serious about what I said earlier and I answered in the affirmative. I then asked her why she walked away without letting me explain what I meant to say. She said she thought I had probably overheard her talk about her own life as she had always felt her own life had been a series of difficult and insurmountable challenges with little or no training or skills on how to navigate its many contours and jagged edges drives her crazy.
I immediately sat up from my desk with rapt attention. I had planned to write this book to reflect my experiences and challenges in life climbing life’s many “Rocky Mountains” and troubles. The thought of someone else having the same experience immediately peaked my interest and confirmed to me that this is indeed a book I needed to write. I had been studying mountains, hills and rocks in history and Scriptures; as well as learning about the many courageous people who dared to climb them. This book is an attempt to share my experience navigating life’s many mountainous travails, as well as my studies of scriptures and history, with the hope that many will read it and find some of my suggestions helpful in their own journey.
There are many who believes that no personal experience is necessarily replicable and that each and every one of us has to experience life mountainous challenges in our own unique way. John Muir, the Scottish-born American author of the widely read book on adventures in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California was once quoted to have said, “I have a low opinion of books; they are but piles of stones set up to show coming travelers where other minds have been or at best signal smokes to call attention. No amount of word-making will ever make a single soul to know these mountains.” I am however convinced that while this may be true of mountains, we still learn from each other, as we are all pilgrims of the vertical.
The task is also not necessarily meant to enable us know the mountains but to conquer it and emerge victorious in the journey of life. Knowledge, after all is a powerful tool in driving away fear and ignorance. As Don Mellor was famously quoted to have said in the book Pilgrims of the Vertical, every mountain sojourners and travelers often “read the same news and editorials, climbers across the country share the same information, if not the same values.” In fact, as we often heard people say “experience is learning from our mistakes and wisdom is learning from the mistakes of others who had gone before us”.
Many give up on life challenges often because they look at it as insurmountable. Some gave up looking for the compass they need to navigate life. Some make it to the bottom of the mountain, raise up their heads to look at the top and then throw up their hands dejectedly walking away with sullen faces; choosing to dwell in the low lands than face life difficult challenges. Some even summoned enough courage to ascend the mountain and midway tumbles down, crashing back to earth as soon as they suffered a bit of a setback. I write not as someone who had attained or reach the pinnacle of my own life mountainous challenges but as someone who is determined to continue the journey to the zenith using the experience, skills and discoveries made so far on my way.
I am convinced I am not alone in this quest and many will come away from this book delighted to find the mental attitude to surmount their challenges. While others find it to be a confirmation of what they already know.
My approach is to look at life mountainous challenges from the totality of my relationship with others, as well as my experience as an African and as a naturalized American. No one can lay claim to a magic formulae that will cure all of man’s life challenges and I do not posit to have all the answers, what I do know is where to search for answers. My search for answers had inevitably led me to the source and creator of all things.
There is no doubt that man’s greatest ignorance is lack of knowledge about his own source and potentials. When we discover our source we would surely be on our way to fulfill our potentials; as our source will direct us to the manuals he prescribed for us. I am convinced that some of the unique attitudes or qualities require of a good rock or mountain climbers is uniquely relevant to our life challenges. Attitudes such as vision, passion, initiative, teamwork, innovation, persistence, discipline, focus, time management, confidence, positive disposition, patience, peace and compassion will be explore in this book so that we can all discover how to cultivate them in our life.
This book is dedicated to helping millions of people who seems stuck at the foot of the mountain when the peak beckons them. It will help you discover again your true potentials and equip you with the mental attitude to start ascending that height you thought is out of reach for you. As I reiterated earlier, wisdom is learning from other people’s mistakes and challenges, so get ready to learn from others who had gone before you.