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Making It Through Hard Times

Updated on January 27, 2012

One Breath At A Time...

They say when climbing Everest, the struggle is so much that you concentrate on nothing but breath. One then the next then the next. You labor to just make it through the next breath so that you can then make it through the next step. You take a step and stop then again until you have reached the top. You are nothing but lungs and breath. You are not thinking of money or your dry cleaning, the dishes or what you will eat for dinner. You are not thinking of how your spouse has offended you with an offhand comment or what car you’d like to drive. You’re thinking only of the breath you are in. You have pushed yourself so far that the air is almost too thin to sustain. But you keep going, not down, but up. You take a step then stop and breathe. You go up. On the summit, you are essentially dying, but you go up. Because on the summit, the peak is there. The end. The top. The place few others have seen. The closer you get to it, the harder it is to keep going. The worse your situation becomes. But you keep going because you know the peak is there. Each labored breath gets you closer. Each concrete footed step is 6 more inches to the top of the world. So you go. And you think only of breath. And if you pause long enough, you may think of what that breath is for. Your children, your love, your dearest friend, perhaps just the privilege of having breath. But you think of nothing else. And you are grateful for each new inhale. Grateful that you are able.

So that is the journey. Turmoil and danger and misery and breaking the limits of your will and your body. Experiencing limit after limit and pushing through them, no matter how long it takes. Excruciating cold and tooth pain wind. Reliance on guides and trails, fellow journeymen for your very life. And with each new phase, they all fade away one by one and become useless until you are relying on nothing more than your own will to pull oxygen into your lungs and push it carbon dioxide back out. Your own will to endure one more step. That is the journey you have chosen. Does the destination make all of the struggle worth it? I guess one decides for themselves. Many try, few experience the view past the jagged rocky last step to know the experience of the very last edge of human endurance. But what about those who do? They know things others never will. They have seen. They have seen and will always know what others do not, cannot. They will see the world in a way that others cannot see it. And everything, from that moment on, will be viewed through the lens of that knowledge.

And so no matter how hard it gets, take one breath at a time. Breathe, step, stop and breathe again. Keep moving up and forward. You will eventually reach the summit. And when you do, you will see and it will have all become worth it. And you will have wisdom that others cannot.


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