The other day I went hiking. It was a great time with some beautiful sights. There was a waterfall, a lake, and a pond along the way. For some reason I just love to look at water, there is something calming about it. However, getting to the water was not very calming. We were basically rock climbing on the first part of the hike the hill was so steep. It wasn’t too bad after that though. After reflecting upon it, I realized that there was a lot I could learn from this hike when I relate it to life.
Part One: The Beginning
To begin the hike we arrived at the bottom of a waterfall. I think it was the first time I have seen a waterfall up close like that. I have been to Niagara Falls but I was never very close to the falls. This time I was able to touch the water. Although they were not very big, yet still the biggest in NJ, it was pretty awesome. However, we had to make it to the top on the falls to begin our hike. They had some steep stairs that lead us to the top. After thinking about it, this reminded me of early life. When we are born it is something beautiful, similar to the sights of the falls. As children our path is usually laid out for us by our parents like the stairs were but this path is not always easy. We have to struggle to learn how to do everything from walking, to talking, to using the toilet. This struggle is represented by the steepness of the stairs.
Once we make it through the struggle, life becomes pretty easy. As a kid we do not have much to worry about. Our biggest concern is usually trying to avoiding getting a scraped knee while playing kickball. This is how it felt at the top of the falls. We were able to relax and look back on the waterfall to see the beautiful from a different perspective. We looked from the top and were able to see how the different levels of the falls flowed into the next one with a seamless transition; the kind which only flowing water can have. There are some many different stages we go through in life and at each stage we reach a new perspective, seeing life in a way that we may have never thought possible. We may look at something at one point in our life and think it is wonderful, such as how we looked at the falls from the bottom; but then we get to another point in life and realize the beauty in a whole new light.
Part Two: The Climb
The next part of our hike was easily the hardest part: the climb. We had to hike up hill for about a mile. The climb was rocky and steep and the fact that it was excessively humid did not help our cause. Although this mile long stretch was the hardest of the hike, it is certainly one of the easiest parts to relate to life. Throughout our lives we are going to have to go through so many climbs where things get hard and we might get a little sweaty or a lot in our case. Our muscles and our minds will be tired and we will want to give in but you can’t. You can certainly take a few breaks like we did climbing that hill, but you cannot give up. If we decided the hike was too hard we would have never got to see all of the amazing things nature had to offer us that day. (Although I did not get to see a bear which is one of my goals for hiking.) If you give up on life because things get too hard you can certainly miss out on some amazing opportunities that life could throw your way. Because like our hike, life has a plethora of beautiful sights to offer, you just have to be brave and strong enough to take the adventure to find them.
Part Three: The Fork in the Trail
After the climb things got a lot easier but we came to a fork in the trail. We had to decided which way we wanted to go. This happens all the time in life. We have to decide which college to go to, we have to decide what career to get into, we have to decide where we are going to live, we have to decide who we are going to spend our time with, and the list goes on and on. For us the decision was easy, we went down the path that was the easiest to follow according to our trail map. However, we knew that we would just go down the other path on the way back so we wouldn’t miss out. Life’s decision can be much different. You are not always going to be able to see both outcomes like we did. In fact, often times you will have to pick between the two knowing you can only have one. Furthermore, there are usually more there two decisions. There could be three or four or even a countless number of possibilities to choice from. At this moment you can choose what we did and take the easiest way or you can be brave and go on an adventure to see where the trail leads you. We decided to be safe because we did not want to get lost in the woods with a forecasted thunderstorm on the way. (A little side note, never let the weather prediction affect your plans because we almost didn’t go because of rain and it never even rained.) However, maybe sometimes all you need is to get lost in the woods and go on an adventure, you never know what you might find.
Part Four: The Lake
Once we conquered the climb and made our way past the fork it was pretty easy traveling. We made our way through the woods to get to the “pièce de résistance:” the lake. This point of the hike is the point in life where you are completely happy and your life is perfect. You have made it through the struggle and learned to appreciate what you have. You have made it to the place you have been trying to get to the whole time. I believe I am at this point now. I still have some forks to figure out but I get to look upon the lake as I figure them out. Some people sadly never get to this point. Maybe it is because they made some bad decision when they were young, maybe it is because they could never get past their struggles, or maybe it is because they spend too much time focusing on why their life sucks and how hard it was to get to the lake instead of focusing on what a sight the lake is. Remember no matter where you are in life you can always find a problem. If you choice to focus on that problem you could end up never being happy. However if you focus on all the reasons your life is great and perfect, even if your best friend and dog is the only reason, you can reach a level of happiness you never thought possible.
Part Five: Getting Lost in the Woods
So I said before that we did not want to get lost in the woods but we couldn’t help ourselves, we just had too. We had a little trouble following the directions on the trial map and ending up going down the wrong path. We eventually figured it out the confusion and found our way back but how often does this happen to us in life? We get confused and do not know where to go or what to do. In this moment there are plenty of things you could do. I would recommend one of two things. You can either keep moving forward and work things out along the way, we did not do this because we did not want to end up hiking into PA; or you can back track and retrace your steps. Whatever you do to work your way through the confusion it never helps to freak out and let the feeling of overwhelm consumer you. Yes, it can be scary and difficult not to know where you are but it can also lead to great growth and discovery.
Part Six: The Way Back
Buttermilk Falls: a different perspective.
After going down the second trail we skipped the first time to see the nearby pond, it was time to head back. The way back is similar to the later years in life, or what I think they will be like since I am still young. You have some much experience that nothing is really new to you. However, you are seeing the same things with a new perspective. Even though we hiked by the rock formation on the way up, it looks different coming from the other direction, coming from a new perspective. The way back was mostly downhill. This is not to say that once you are older everything is downhill from there such as some people may say. This is to say that things could get a little easier because you have been there before and you have more experience. Going downhill is still no walk in the park though. The slope may be a little tricky to navigate and you may slip along the way. I know we certainly did. Just like the climb though you cannot give up. You have to keep going especially with the end near. You have to make the most of the time you have lift on the hike and in life. Take one last look at it before you go home and go to sleep.
Part Seven: Sleep Time
At the end of a great day of hiking you are probably going to be tired. You are going to go home and get a great night’s sleep, unless you’re like me and have to wake up in the middle of the night to make donuts. You accomplished all you wanted to throughout the day and saw some beautiful things along the way. This is the final stage in life. If you live life to the fullest and accomplish all that you wanted to, you can die a peaceful death. I never really thought that hiking could have such parallels to life but I guess you can find parallels in anything if you look hard enough. So go out and make your life an adventure. Be brave and strong enough to go to new places and experience things you haven’t before. Life is full on beauty you just have to be brave enough to go on the adventure, to take the hike, to find it.