My friend Danny de armas and I had just hiked three miles in the mountains of Colorado. Now we stood staring up almost a mile at the 12,900 foot ridge we had to to cross to make it back to base camp.
We had been on our feet almost all day. It seemed that with each foot we gained in elevation the packs grew heavier and my legs grew weaker. I had been watching my feet to see if they were still moving.
A distant sound made me look up. Black menacing storm clouds were flexing their muscles in the west. Could we beat the storm? It was an important question. The last thing we wanted is to be caught on the top of a treeless ridge with lightning stomping around us looking for the easiest route to the ground. Three quarters of the way up the ridge, carrying fifty pound packs that felt twice that heavy it became clear that this was going to be a close race. You don’t want a race with lightning to end in a tie!
Although the sun was still baking us the clouds were growing darker, larger and closer and now we could see the snaky tongues of lightning searching the distant mountains for us. I was breathing in huge rasping gasps. I turned to Danny and said, “I don’t think I can make it. How are we ever going to get to the top?” Danny replied with determination and without hesitation.
“One step at a time, Ken. One step at a time.”
So the race with the storm was reduced to a simple formula. Put one foot in front of the other, then give the other foot a turn. I stared only at my dusty boots. I didn’t want them to become smoking boots. And I certainly didn’t want to become some crispy critter smoldering on the mountain top. I moved upward one step at a time. A cool blast of wind announced my arrival at the top of the ridge. We did not stop to celebrate, but we whooped it up all the way down the other side of the moutain. We had beaten the storm. We were alive! We did it one step at a time.
What mountain has to be climbed for you to experience life fully alive?
What is the first step you have to take?
You may not be sure. Take a step anyway. Don’t try to figure it all out before you move. Start walking, with the first step you will be closer to your destination.