I had to pause as I wrote this down. Isn’t the top of the mountain the destination? Aren’t you required to stop….ahhh because it’s the top? The pinnacle? What you’ve been striving for?
This was the last life lesson given by Andre De Shields, in his acceptance speech for the Tony for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical for Hadestown.
As I thought more about it, the meaning became clear. When you reach the top of the mountain, it’s okay to pause and take in what you’ve accomplished. But you can’t stop.
Each goal you reach opens up more opportunities for improvement. For new challenges. For mentorship. For connection. For confidence. For improved health or strength. For anything you can imagine.
When you reach the top, you pause. You don’t stop.
This was made even more clear to me last night. It was our school talent show. A night to celebrate the diversity of talent that exists in our fourth- and fifth-grade classes. An opportunity for students to showcase the things they can do before the head to a new grade or a new school.
The first act was three of our students who have autism. The song they chose? Seasons of Love from the musical Rent.
Those brave three not only took the stage. They took the night. The climbed the mountain and were rewarded with tears and a standing ovation. Two of the three will be heading to middle school next year. A brand spankin’ new mountain to climb.
Our students aren’t allowed to stop. They have to keep climbing. The climb their way to the next grade level or to middle and eventually high school. When they reach the top of that mountain, they climb their way into higher education. And then? They climb their way out of the poverty and violence that have held others in their communities and that have prevented others from taking that first step up that mountain.
We all have goals and challenges to conquer. Some are molehills and some feel like Mt. Kilimanjaro. Regardless of the height and the steepness, we keep climbing. Some days we may only climb a few steps and sometimes we can go for miles. But we keep climbing, moving forward at whatever pace we can muster. Always moving forward.
And when we get to the top? We are stronger and have more wisdom to miss the pitfalls. We have more confidence knowing what we just accomplished. Maybe we met a companion or two along the way.
And we use all of this to climb the next mountain.
Always remember to celebrate conquering those mountains. Stop and have a picnic. Instagram that mess and show it off to others but as soon as you’ve finished celebrating, strap on those hiking boots. The next mountain is waiting. And I promise you, view from the top is magnificent!