Something has been haunting me. I climbed a mountain a few weeks ago, and something happened that I haven’t been able to shake off.
In some parts of the world, when you get to the summit of a mountain, you’ll find a little metal canister wedged between the rocks.
Inside is something called a summit register. Usually it’s just a simple notepad and a cheap pen. Climbers who make it to the top will log the date, their name, where they’re from, and maybe include a drawing or a few thoughts.
I love to read what people write in the register. People turn into philosophers when they climb a mountain. The canister is like a present, filled with the wisdom of a hundred other adventurers. I can’t wait to open it.
Anyway, I was climbing this mountain for a reason. I was looking for something, an answer to a question I’d been stuck on.
I figured I would find the answer on my own, on the climb, like I had so many times before. But I found what I was looking for in the words of a stranger. Someone had written it in the summit register.
“Pushing through to the uncertain future and making fate happen the way it should. Couldn’t be more beautiful.”
Climbing the mountain left me physically and mentally exhausted. I think that makes you open and vulnerable. I had no armor left. The words sunk right in.
They were the right words at the right time, too. I read them a few times on the summit, and they came back to me today.
The Uncertain Future
Change can be scary. Even when it’s for the better, it can be scary.
Fear can make you question what you should do. Even if you know what you should do, you’ll have doubts.
You don’t want to make the wrong choice, but you don’t even know what that means, so you do nothing. That’s the trap our fear sets for us.
When you don’t know what to do, you can get stuck or trapped or hopeless. That’s the worst feeling I know. And maybe you should be hopeless. There are no guarantees you’ll get what you want no matter what you do. Maybe it doesn’t work out for you, or for me. Or maybe it works out better than you can possibly imagine. I have no idea.
The future really is uncertain. I hate not knowing. I wish I believed in fate. I wish I could have even a little shred of certainty. But I can’t. It doesn’t work like that.
You have to take risks. You have to face uncertainty, and be willing to lose what you have. Hopefully that doesn’t happen, but it could, and it’s terrifying, but it’s also beautiful in a way. There’s a certain magic that happens when you really go after something. A mountain or a dream or a life that fits who you are.
This is your adventure. It’s up to you to make it a good one. – Click to tweet.
If you don’t want to spend your life at the bottom of the mountain, imprisoned by fear, you only have one choice.
You have to take a risk, accept the unknown, and push through to the uncertain future.
That’s how you make fate happen.
Couldn’t be more beautiful.
Bradley Charbonneau says
I love how after the quote and the date, the next word is:
The future is out there, you just need to find it. Even when you do, it might not be what you expected–or as warm. 😉
Great stuff, John. Glad you made it to the top and thanks for sharing the climbers’ secrets about the canister.
John Muldoon says
Yeah, that word Cold… it’s like a one word story sometimes. I’ve read that story so much, I know it by heart. 🙂
Fred Barson says
John, great thoughts. You had me thinking every sentence. Here’s where I am on the experience of getting stuck.
I know very little: names, dates, facts, yes. I know those. But why I’m feeling what I’m feeling beyond “I’m afraid,” “I feel really good” is seldom worth more than a moment’s attention (although it often gets a lot more than it deserves).
“Fate” – what is supposed to happen (according to what? to whom?) –seems to me a distraction. While, I acknowledge another reality, I know very little about it and trying to guess whatever it holds in store is just adding another layer to my not knowing. It’s bad enough I don’t understand why my toilet lever doesn’t work. I don’t need to figure out why I suddenly got an email from an old flame and question if the universe is telling me to leave my wife.
I begin with myself, the good and the bad. It seems I’m still at a point where the good outweighs the bad, so I add it up, what others have said, what I know, until I arrive at a point of possibility. Then I move forward however it beckons, making choices, pursuing actions. Yes, I will make mistakes and there will be fears, some well founded, others, demons rooted in what happened to me before I could understand and deal with them. Call it a journey if you want; that’s just a useful construct. It’s living, breathing, moving, acting, fearing, accomplishing, failing and from time to time succeeding, which are all useful constructs.
Leslie Lawton says
The right words at the right time. I’ve been in an uncertain state for months now, finally accepting that my life is changing dramatically. All sorts of wonderful ideas are springing up, straight from my heart. Yet the excitement, creativity and expansion coexist with days, and especially nights, filled with dread and fear.
I have been working, in one way or another with you for I think about 8 years now, John. And you have always been a gift. You have grown into the most amazing strategist and advisor. Your work gives me hope, and that’s all I need to scale the mountain of a new life with unimagined vistas. I’m going to glissade down the other side. I’ll let you know how that goes.
John Muldoon says
Thanks Leslie! I’m really excited about your next adventure.
I recently read somewhere that making decisions in ambiguous situations is something you get comfortable with experience. So the more you do it, the less ambiguity bugs you…
John Muldoon says
Hey Maria. I totally agree with that. It’s hard to practice at first, but I guess most things are. 🙂