(Note: A downloadable PDF copy of this lesson is available on the last page.)
GOALS BRING LIFE INTO FOCUS
I’m firmly convinced that the goals we set for ourselves account for one of the most crucial factors of all in building our self-respect or self-love.
Goals bring life into focus. They give meaning and purpose to life.
ASSAULT ON MT. WHITNEY
I have a friend who was determined to climb Mt. Whitney, which is the tallest mountain in the continental United States—more than 14,000 feet high. He invited me to go along.
It is a long, hard, two-day climb. Each person has to carry a heavy backpack with two days of food, extra clothing in case it rains or snows, a sleeping bag, and a tank of oxygen.
The day came when we stood at the foot of the trail, thrilled as we looked up and saw the peak high up in the sky.
We had many trails ahead of us. There were long, easy sections. There were fast-moving mountain streams. Also ahead were long, steep climbs that left our muscles aching and our lungs panting for breath.
Toward the end of the first day, the shrubbery and grass began to disappear and we had left the tall trees behind. There were rocks and some small, gnarled, tough little trees.
As we looked up, the peak seemed as far away as ever.
A HARD NIGHT’S SLEEP
We stopped for the night and removed our packs from our weary backs. There was a cold, biting wind blowing. We built a fire, heated up some soup, and sat back to enjoy the breath-taking scenery. We didn’t mind the aching muscles. We accepted the pain and the cold as a part of reaching our goal.
Finally, we rolled out our sleeping bags, crawled in, and tried to sleep on the hard rocks with a howling wind blowing that made us huddle as far down as possible in our sleeping bags.
In the morning, when we crawled out of our bags, our bones ached from spending the night on that hard rock, and our muscles ached from yesterday’s climb, but we were happy and wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
After a breakfast of dried meat and peanuts, we hoisted our packs up on our aching backs and started out. The trail became steeper and steeper.
IT FOOLS YOU
Many times at the foot of a long, steep climb, it looked like we had finally reached the peak. But when we reached the top, we discovered that there were more peaks beyond. We climbed down, up, down, up. The air became very thin, and we had to breathe oxygen from our little tank in order to keep going.
Those little peaks seemed to keep coming forever.
Climbing those lesser peaks made sense only because we kept that final peak in view. Finally, after some eight hours of climbing, sometimes through deep snow banks, and seemingly having expended every ounce of energy, we stood on the peak, 14,000 feet up—with a breathtaking 360º view to enjoy.
Our long-range goal of reaching the peak gave meaning to subjecting ourselves to the expenditure of energy, pain, sleeping on a hard rock, eating coarse food, and lugging a heavy pack on our backs. It was an exhilarating, rewarding experience. High up on the peak of Mt. Whitney, we vowed to climb some other mountains—which we have done.