5 LESSONS THE MOUNTAINS CAN TEACH US

I grew up with the mountains. My first childhood home was in a valley, nestled snugly between several nameless peaks offering plenty of forested creeks to frolic in, while my second home was on the mountainside, high above the Pacific Ocean. Living amongst their beauty has lead me to believe that there are many things the mountains have to teach us, if we only take the time to watch and listen. As important as good council is in life, sometimes we need only to return to the earth to learn what we need to know.

We must stand strong during times of adversity

Mountains consistently face threats in the form of climate change, construction, forced demolition, over-grazing and logging; yet still strong they stand, a symbol of immobility for thousands of years. When times get difficult, often our first instinct is to crumble; to curl up in bed and stay there for a while, ignoring the problems around us. However, this does not allow for betterment for either yourself nor the problem. If you can stand strong, hold fast, and face adversity and your problems head on, you will be able to find healing and determination, giving yourself hope rather than giving yourself feelings of defeat and hopelessness that come with falling down and admitting defeat. 

The most beautiful pursuits are often the most dangerous

Growing up surrounded by ski hills, I often was greeted in the morning by newspaper headlines informing me of late night helicopter searches for hikers and skiers who had gone missing after venturing off trail to explore the mountain. If they were lucky enough to be found, they usually explained to the media that they simply wanted to see more of the mountain's beauty... but that the mountain's beauty was more dangerous than they had fathomed. Often the things in life that look the most attractive  - be it fame, riches or power - come with pitfalls that are easy to fall into if you are not aware of their existence. It is important for you to follow your dreams, but it is even more important to be on the lookout for pits that may cause you to stumble at the top. You want to enjoy the fruits of your hard work - don't allow them to be your downfall.

It is important to provide for others

When it rains, mountains are the first to receive the life giving water - yet they do not keep it for themselves. They retain enough to sustain their flora and fauna, and then they allow the rest of the water to flow down the hills and nourish the remaining ecosystems, villages and cities. When I lived in Vancouver, I got in the habit of keeping granola bars in my purse to give to anyone who lived on the streets that was hungry. I was working at the time, so I could afford the extra little expense. A granola bar was a small amount of food to me, yet it was possible it was the only food another person would eat all day. Similarly, there are probably things that you can do in life that may take a little from your resources, but give a lot to those who are in need. If a mountain kept all the rain for itself, not only would the land below dry up - the mountain would flood from all the excess.

The best surprises often pass us by

I have been fortunate enough to drive through the Rocky Mountains several times. Each drive takes my breath away, but there have been several times where spectacular moments occurred. Not long ago, my family and I were driving on the highway when we saw a grizzly bear cub right on the side of the road, observing the cars passing it by. We drove by slowly, marveling at the organic sight. Another time, we saw bighorn sheep fighting by ramming their giant horns at each other. We pulled over and watched, listening to the sound like thunder echoing throughout the mountains. Life is like the Rockies - there are beautiful surprises waiting for you. However, they are easy to miss. If you are prone to going through life plugged in with headphones on and eyes glued to your devices, try looking up once in a while to see what you may be missing. There is beauty in the everyday.

We must adapt to change

Although mountains are often considered stationary, they are constantly changing and shifting. The Appalachian Range used to be the tallest mountain range in the world, and now the highest Appalachian is only 3,000 feet tall due to environmental factors such as erosion. Yet these mountains, though different than before, are no less beautiful. The world today is changing in faster and in different ways than ever before. New technologies are being introduced. Tragedies are occurring at constant rates. Scientific discoveries are teaching us more about our world everyday. It seems as though the only constant anymore is change itself and the insecurities that come with it. While it may seem tempting to resist all news and live dependent on the information one wants to believe is stagnant, that fear will keep one from growing as a person. The world may be changing, but if we can adapt, we too can still live well and beautifully, letting time and experience soften our hardest ridges.

Northern Rustication