The peak is not the goal (Part 2)

[See Dec16 for part 1]



... until finally, finally you realise that this must be it. The clouds have long since faded away to reveal a mountainscape with the unmistakable jagged summit that you have spent the last six months dreaming about and the last six hours longing for, cursing.

With a renewed spring in your step despite the sensation that your lungs are going to burst, you abandon all the silly repetitive counting games you had been playing to make the climb go quicker, make it bearable, and bound up the scraggy path that leads to the top.

The very top.

This is it now.

For the last few hundred metres you have denied yourself the pleasure of surveying the view, partly due to the effort taken to complete the ascent and partly in order to enjoy it all the more when the moment came.

"Wow! Just look at that!"

"I know!"

You wish you could be more poetic in your exchange with your climbing partner, but the majesty of the view would render any words superfluous, irrelevant. Humanity, for the moment, has been rendered superfluous, irrelevant.

You see rows and clusters of hills and mountains, the higher peaks, like this one, with a tight padding of cloud around their middles; valleys carved up by meandering rivers, glinting silver in the early afternoon sun. And way over to the west the suggestion of a mighty ocean...

Once again you murmur "Wow!" and then feel, already, a sense of anti-climax spreading through you like the sensation of cold now that you have stopped moving.

It is too soon to suggest turning around and heading back down, although the thunderstorms that claim a life a month will be rolling in from the windward side in a couple of hours. But what else is there to do with the view; with the sense of achievement? The peak is in the bag, partially claimed; the photographs have been taken; the account of the ascent has been mentally drafted, and requires almost no embellishment when told and retold to whoever will listen.


If it is the attainment of a goal that brings happiness, then we will have to content ourselves with spending a vanishingly small proportion of our lives being in the actual, present state of happiness rather than looking forward or back. Making more of the reality of Now, the infinitesimally small moment between what is the unfathomable future and the unrepeatable past, will allow you to conquer the illusion of time, and enjoy, intransitively.

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