People who have followed NQC know that my story includes a mountain failure when I was eleven. At least I saw it that way. I tried to climb Long’s Peak with my mom, dad and their friends, believing that I would stand on top of all 14,255 feet of it. I was wrong. My climb ended at Boulder Field, somewhere in the thirteen thousand plus range, with me throwing up from altitude sickness.
Instead of celebrating on the summit, my dad (who was also ill) and I made our way back to the trailhead while the others headed to the top. In my mind, I was more of a loser than an overcomer. Why? Because I believed that to overcome there was only one good outcome, making it to the top.
I’ve learned since then that overcoming doesn’t always mean what we think it means. It’s not necessarily getting healed from our illness, obtaining the perfect job or becoming debt-free, as welcome as those would be to most.
Let me in fact suggest some other versions of overcoming.
Overcoming can include:
- Breaking free of our fear of failure, at least most of the time.
- Having changed our general lifestyle from that of an addict to a person who is in more control of their urges than before.
- Trying something new just once or twice without saying it’s easy now. Perhaps we just experience what I call exhilarating terror.
- Seeing our disease move from fatal to manageable.
- Inviting a formerly estranged family member to have dinner with you – once.
Overcoming often simply means that we’ve moved significantly down the road we believe is important for us to travel. There is a freedom that we didn’t have before, a concern rather than panic, sadness more than despair, irritation more often than rage.
You don’t have to reach the summit to conquer your mountain. The question is, Did you conquer yourself, your fears, your imprisonment? Did you win a small battle, even though the war isn’t won just yet? Have you moved in a new or varied direction, one that is healthier and more productive?
The key is to look for little victories and celebrate them. Sometimes it takes those baby wins to ultimately win the war. So start now. Overcome by taking the first step or two. And one day the whole mountain may be yours.