You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. . . . So why bother in the first place? Just this: what is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer but one has seen. There is an art to conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know.Rene Daumal
I get very sad for people who refuse to take risks, justifying their refusal by saying that even if they succeed, they’ll just lose whatever success they have and be right back where they started before long. These people don’t allow themselves to taste success at all, and because they don’t have the memory of any success in their minds, they find no motivation to try to succeed later. As Rene says above, the memory of previous successes often drives us to take other risks in other fields as our lives go on, and success thus builds on success, making our lives richer and fuller.
“Why bother in the first place?” Because we need to know–we need to know our possibilities and our limitations, so that we can build on the former and find ways of compensating for the latter. And so that we can stand on the summit and experience the view and the clear air and the sense of accomplishment that comes from reaching it.
Coming back down is only a drag if we have the unrealistic expectation of staying at the summit for very long periods of time–that just can’t happen. Life is about ups and downs, peaks and valleys, and many valleys are just as beautiful as mountaintops–in fact, they tend to be prettier because they have more life to them. While mountain peaks tend to be barren and empty of life, valleys tend to have running water, plants and trees and flowers, and lots of animal life.
The “lower regions” aren’t at all negative, except for someone who wants to live only in the heights. We should enjoy them just as much as we ever enjoy the peaks.
Questions to ponder:
1. Where does our cultural fascination with being “on top” come from?
2. Have your former successes ever helped you with current tasks? How?
3. What do you still remember from some of your most important achievements?
For further thought:
Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.
Credit: Living Life Fully