I read a quote by Sir Edmund Hillary this morning, which struck me. He said, “It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.” I gave it a little minute, and then, it resonated with me in a big and lumpy kind of way.
It is true, I think.
Moving off the main topic for a minute, I had to take a look at his life. He was from New Zealand. I don’t think I ever knew that. He gained an interest in mountain climbing when he was a schoolboy, down there in New Zealand. Or so they say.
I think he had an interest in this sort of thing the minute he came out of the womb. You see, not only was he the very first white guy to climb Everest successfully (during the early 1950s), he also led expeditions to the North Pole and the South Pole.
Now, I like to think that I am a bit on the observant side. So I would definitely say that he was born to be a major adventurer. Me? I was born to fashion elaborate cocoons, and rarely venture away from those surroundings.
Back to Edmund.
He was a go-seer. And also, it seems, he was a nice guy to boot. After the Everest deal, he devoted himself to assisting the Sherpa people of Nepal. He set up something called the Himalayan Trust, which he established in 1960. As part of that, the foundation constructed many schools and hospitals in that remote region of the Himalayas.
While he was climbing, he had a great deal of help from his Sherpa. That dude was Nepalese Sherpa mountaineer Tenzing Norgay. Most people don’t hear “Tenzing Norgay” when they are told about the first to climb Everest. But you can bet Tenzing had a great deal to do with it. And I bet that is why Hillary wanted to create a foundation to help the people of those parts.
Another thing I learned, about Hillary, is that he had a wife named Louise Mary Rose, and they had three kids. But, she died in a plane crash. So did their youngest daughter, Belinda. They were on a plane near Kathmandu airport, on their way to meet him. The plane crashed shortly after take-off.
But yeah, all of this because I saw his quote this morning. I wonder what it was like for him growing up in New Zealand? It is, after all, the last habitable landmass to be populated. It seems pretty remote, pretty rough-and-tumble, and pretty rugged. There aren’t even any snakes on the island (a little sidebar for my snake-hating friends). However, there IS a giant carnivorous snail living in the South Island. Which, need not be feared, I wouldn’t think. I am guessing any one of us could outrun the thing.
But the quote. I keep getting away from the quote. “It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.”
It may not be Everest, but we all have mountains in our lives. That is for sure. Some of them bigger than others. Those obstacles to get past. Those elevations to scale.
Whatever that thing is, that challenge, that obstruction — it is ours. And we have to come up with the strength, the will, the intelligence to move past it. Whether we decide to go straight up and over, or walk all the way around. It is us, that has to do it. It means overcoming that place in our minds, that sees it has a “hard and fixed obstacle” and seeing it more as a part of the journey.
It is then, not the mountain that gets smaller. It is us, who get bigger.
“Bad times have a scientific value. These are occasions a good learner would not miss.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
“It is by fighting the limitations, temptations, and failures of the world that we reach our highest possibilities.”
― Helen Keller, My Religion
“Don’t give up! It’s not over. The universe is balanced. Every set-back bears with it the seeds of a come-back.”
― Steve Maraboli,