Oprah and the Mountains
It makes no difference how many peaks you reach if there was no pleasure in the climb…
I’m not a regular reader of Oprah Winfrey’s magazine, O Magazine, but it was passed along to me recently by a colleague who mentioned I should read the final page. It was a regular column in O Magazine entitled "What I Know For Sure", and in it the ever-insightful Oprah had some great thoughts about here recent climb of a mountain near her home in Hawaii.
Now, any of you who visit The MountainWorld Blog regularly know that one of my favorite authors and thinkers is Robert Pirsig, author of the classic Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and his follow-up book, Lila: An Inquiry into Morals.
In Zen, Pirsig talks in depth about the pace of life while climbing a mountain, and the "correct" way to climb it, focusing on the moment, on each footstep, rather than on the end goal. This way, he says, we learn to enjoy the climb more which, in the end, it what it is all about.
This adage, of course, applies well to life as well as climbing mountains, as Oprah found out on her recent climb. If we focus too much on the end goal, on the distant and oft-elusive summit, we miss the pleasure of the climb, the fascination of the here-and-now. And, in the end, the summit is simply another patch of snow or rock; it’s the sides of our mountains where our journey both begins and ends…and endures.
As Oprah wisely notes at the end of her article (echoing the sentiments I always close my Everest keynotes with):
It makes no difference how many peaks you reach if there was no pleasure in the climb…I’m going to spend more time enjoying the view from here.
Wise words, Oprah, and thanks!
– Jake Norton is an Everest climber, guide, photographer, writer, and motivational speaker from Colorado.