The Mountains Of Our Life

by Lance Ekum on · 20 comments


“It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.” ~ Edmund Hillary

As I sit here, I am transported back to a moment from a couple of years back, from our visit to Mount Rainier, in Washington state.  This picture – a favorite of mine – jumped out at me.  A reminder of our summer vacation, and even more than that – what this mountain, what all the mountains of our world, can teach us. 

Our visit – just a single day, yet an awe-filled moment that will live on forever in my soul.

Lessons from the Mountain

  • A mountain…it represents both a high point and a low point.  And even climbing a mountain, there will be moments where you are going up, and then need to change direction and go down in order to continue to the peak. 

    Life Lesson: Life is like this.  There will be ups and there will be downs.  The important thing to remember is that through it all, remember where you are headed on your life journey.  Have you thought about the peak you're aiming for?

  • Go out on a hike, and depending on where you are – there may or may not be a trail to follow.  Along the easier parts of the mountain, paths which are traveled regularly by many – trails are plentiful and in good condition.  The closer you get to the peak, or the farther away you get from places that are most popular – the less likely you are to have an easy trail to follow. 

    Life Lesson: Along those paths in life you travel, sometimes you will be on well-traveled paths.  These paths – the paths of comfort, familiarity,  mediocrity – they are paths traveled by many.  And they are not necessarily good or bad.  They just are.  And they are paths we will travel on.  All of us.  And sometimes, that is good.  Other times, though, if you really desire to reach your mountaintop, you are going to venture off the main paths.  You will have to blaze your own trails.  Venture out into this unknown territory.

  • As you climb those mountains of your world, or even just heading out into the wilderness near you – there will be times when you fall down. When you slip on a rock.  When there's a stream to cross, and no bridge.  When there are boulders in front of you that seem insurmountable.  And you might get hurt.  You might have to turn around.  Or you might look for another way. 

    Life Lesson: Obstacles.  They are out there in your life.  And you will most certainly encounter them as you go through life.  Will they be there on the new trails you're forging toward your peak?  Definitely.  You will stumble along the way, in this thing called your life.  Your ego will be bruised.  You might be broken financially or emotionally.  Yet, that doesn't mean you are finished, or that your mountain peak isnt' attainable.  Maybe it means you have to retreat and regroup.  Or look for a different way to the top.  Or take a break.  Maybe it even means this isn't the mountain for you.  This can be a good time for reflection, to really evaluate where you're at.  And if you come out of that saying it's the wrong mountain, that's fine.  As you journey through life, what matters to you may change.  Recognizing this is an important step – so that you can be climbing the right mountain – for you.  And if that means retreating because you're now on the wrong mountain, that's perfectly okay.  Just as is taking a break, or retreating and regrouping before conquering the mountain again.

  • Your mountain is there to climb, and you do.  You take paths part of the way.  You forge your own paths part of the way.  You go up, down, sideways, stall, and repeat.  Eventually you reach that peak.  And the view from the peak is an awesome one, filled with the vastness of what you can see from here.  And then you realize, this is a moment in time.  You are not going to stay on this peak.  You'll retreat back down the mountain (perhaps traversing a new path along the way).  And while you'll remember the peak, it's the journey that made it all worth it. 

    Life Lesson: With effort, your mountain peaks in life are reachable.  The thing to remember, though, is that this peak is a moment in time.  The peak is not a place we stay at forever.  It's a place to savor, for having reached it.  And in reaching this life peak, you also remember that's it's the journey of getting there that has made it all so worth it.  And then you move on.  To the next mountain in your life.

The mountains of your life are out there.  You are climbing them right now.  Are they the mountains you want to be climbing?  Have you taken the time to really know, deep within, if this mountain of life you're on – if it's the one you're meant to be climbing at this moment?  Find that mountain that has meaning to you, and climb!

"Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So. . . get on your way." ~ Dr. Seuss

by Lance Ekum

Lance writes stories from his heart, aiming to inspire and motivate, as you align more fully with YOUR true peak. When he's not here, you can find him hanging out with his family, riding a bike, or just generally acting goofy.   Sign up for the Thoughts from the Treehouse newsletter and get additional inspiration in your email inbox!
Lance Ekum
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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Dennis - selfhelpURLs April 1, 2012 at 11:23 am

Great post! We are climbing our “own mountain” every single day.. never thought of that! Thanks to you post because you make me realize that climbing a mountain is definitely not easy, so never take our life EASY too! 🙂



Lance Ekum April 2, 2012 at 2:40 pm

Thanks Dennis.

…and the “mountains” we climb that have real meaning to us…that climb just makes it that much more meaningful and worth it!!

Thanks for the visit!


Jody - Fit at 54 April 1, 2012 at 3:24 pm

Love it Lance. It seems there are always mountains no matter where I am in life so I have to keep climbing & conquering!
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Lance Ekum April 2, 2012 at 2:41 pm

Hi Jody!!

Climb and conquer – I love that!!!


Nick April 3, 2012 at 4:03 am

Great post Lance.
The parallelism you made between life and mountain climbing, is stunning.
As a mountaineer myself, I have learned these lessons first hand, especially that “peak is a moment in time”.
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Lance Ekum April 3, 2012 at 9:02 pm

Thanks Nick!!

And…very awesome…you, being a true moutaineer! I’d love to get out there more and really conquer one of these…I’ll have to follow up with you and get some more info!


David Stevens April 3, 2012 at 5:27 pm

Hi Lance,
Terrific Life lessons here, thankyou
be good to yourself
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Lance Ekum April 3, 2012 at 9:02 pm

Thanks David!!


David Rodwell April 3, 2012 at 6:26 pm

You must have been a Buddhist monk in another life. Seriously though, great piece.
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Lance Ekum April 3, 2012 at 9:03 pm

Ha – I love it!! And..thank you very much, sir!


Chris Barba April 3, 2012 at 10:57 pm

Such an eloquently written post Lance. Every analogy hit home for me. I especially enjoyed the idea of the well travelled paths being safe and comfortable, but to reach YOUR peak you must stray from the traditional trails. That is a powerful message. It reminds me of a quote I head in the documentary Finding Joe, “If you go into the forest where there is already a trail that’s not really your path.”

Everyone of us has a unique capacity, a unique path, and a unique gift. And it is our duty to give back what has been given to us!


Lance Ekum April 4, 2012 at 7:35 am

Yep – that’s it – our path is our “very own unique” path. Sometimes that might be on a well-traveled path, and other times we’re off on our own – forging new pathways…

Thanks for visiting!!


Everest base camp trek April 4, 2012 at 11:39 pm

Gorgeous writing, smooth and effortless to read. In our life we are daily climbing a mountain and learning from from our past experience. Mountain climbing is never easy.


Lance Ekum April 6, 2012 at 9:22 am



Jen April 5, 2012 at 9:43 am

Oh Lance,
We sure our on the same page this month, aren’t we!! So glad we both relate to mountains and the experiences of life…….

Just beautiful writing. And it gets me excited for the next peak…in life AND in summer hiking!
Blessings to you, my friend!
In Harmony,
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Lance Ekum April 6, 2012 at 9:24 am

…yes, we sure are on the same page (or is that the same mountain!!). Wait…I guess it’s not quite the same mountain!

Here’s to experiencing all sorts of peaks on the journeys we are each on.



Ewa June 20, 2012 at 7:39 am

How is it that I missed this post?
I love mountain climbing metaphors when I talk to my teen. We hike a lot together so the lessons from climbing a mountain are easy to translate. I often say how sometimes it takes a lot of effort to climb and how rarely the trail is straight, sometimes it goes up, sometimes down, then there are switchback, but once it reaches the top, the rewards are awesome.
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Lance Ekum June 21, 2012 at 9:19 am

Hi Ewa – it’s great having you “discover” this post now! For me – it’s fun to revisit this, especially after a couple of months since it’s been out there. So, thank YOU for that!!

Ahhh….I can just imagine how much you love mountain climbing metaphors!! (and how much you love to be out there doing just that!)

That reward of reaching the top – it is a reward because of all of that (the ups and downs and everything else) – and it’s an amazing feeling (esp. knowing where we’ve come from to get there). And that’s it – in life and in mountain climbing – the journey is what makes the peak so rewarding…

Thanks again for being here today!!


JuiceBox2Go July 8, 2012 at 8:58 am

Wow! This made me wonder if I’m climbing mountains just because they’re there instead of stopping to choose the mountains that are right for me. I need to be more purposeful. I need to stop and think about where I want to go in life. Great post!


Lance Ekum July 10, 2012 at 5:44 am

This is a great first step – just giving some thought to the “mountains” you’re climbing. Keep at it – it’s a journey so worth taking…


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