Climbing Mountains of Life

Phyllis Farias
5 min readAug 27, 2023

As a child I loved to climb trees. Climb trees and sit on a branch to read books. Then a book introduced me to the mountains. I am talking about one of my favourite books as a child — Heidi by Johanna Spyri. How I longed to climb the mountain and live with Heidi’s grandfather and goats on top of the mountain! That has remained an unfulfilled wish. But a reminder of mountains occur almost every day when hubby and I read Psalm 121 which begins with this line, ‘I look to the mountains; where will my help come from? My help will come from the Lord who made heaven and earth.’

I therefore thought that ‘Mountains’ should in some form be the hero / heroine of this blog. No, as I have already said, I have not climbed any mountains, or hills and no hillocks too. But I have read this inspiring, instructional essay by Paulo Coelho in his book, Like a Flowing River’ — Thoughts and Reflections, entitled, How to climb mountains. I have earlier used the idea for two eulogies, one for my mother and the other for a nephew.

So, come along and let us learn how to climb mountains.

Choose the mountain you want to climb

There are different kinds of mountains to choose from, some easy, some pretty, some challenging, some rocky and jagged, some forested, some steep, some snow-capped and many more.

Just like life! Getting into or out of a relationship, making a career choice, passing examinations, starting a business, getting over an addiction and many more.

The choice is yours. You will get a lot of wanted and unwanted advice but the only person responsible for the ultimate choice is you.

And so choose wisely … The hard work, determination, enthusiasm, that you will put in to climb your mountain should be worth your while.

Find out how to reach the mountain

One would think that when one has made the choice of mountain, one would know how to reach it! I can see the mountain and it seems fairly simple to reach it — but things can happen. There are twists and turns, crossroads, blurred road signs, wrong directions — all coming between you and your objective. Carry on! One day, you will find yourself at the foot of your mountain ready for the climb.

Learn from someone who has been there

‘Ask and you shall receive’. This will be the first time you are climbing this mountain; you have done all your homework, yet there could be something you are unaware of. It will be good to talk to someone who has the experience of climbing this particular mountain.

Think about framing your questions in a way that will help you know the advantages and disadvantages of taking this path or that. This will help you to be better prepared to make informed decisions. Incidentally, avoid talking to, too many people — it will confuse you.

Dangers, seen from close to, are controllable

As you begin to climb your mountain, you will need to pay attention and concentrate. Despite all your preparation, there are bound to be unforeseen dangers. Perhaps, a slithering venomous snake, a sudden drop or cracks in the path, slippery ice, sliding or shaky rocks and pebbles. ‘Be alert’ — Know where you are putting your hands and feet to be on top of the dangers. You are in control.

The Landscape changes, so make the most of it

Single minded pursuit of ones objective without talking breaks can lead to burnout. Stop at the small niche in the rocks, or a flat land, a stream to enjoy the cool water. Take in the beauty of a sunrise or sunset, the mountain in the distance that offers a contrast to your present mountain. Take time to enjoy the unexpected and the different environment to make your climb satisfying and fulfilling.

Respect your body

Reaching the top is important but at what pace and at what cost? Trying to reach the top of the mountain, with no rest and sleep, poor nutrition and hydration and no exercise will take a toll on the body. Nicotine, alcohol and other substances can lead to undesirable consequences.

Don’t forget that walking too slow can lead to boredom and a possibility that one could lose sight of the goal.

Respect your soul

Communicate with God in prayer. Trust and have faith in a higher power to guide you along the journey. The walk is going to be long — what better time to grow as a person. Be sure footed on terra firma and yet reach for the sky. Search within to reach out to others in empathy, compassion and joy. Make the climb worthwhile for you and others.

Be prepared to go the extra mile

What about the detour that you made or you found something interesting along the path or even lost your way?

The distance to the top now seems so far away. But if your objective is still burning within you — walking that extra mile should not make a difference.

Be joyful when you reach the top

You have reached the top.

“Cry, Clap your hands, shout out loud that you made it; let the wind (because it is always windy up there) purify your mind, cool your hot, weary feet, open your eyes, blow the dust out of your heart. What was once only a dream, a distant vision, is now part of your life.”

‘You made it, and that is good.’ — Paulo Coelho. I had to use his words as I couldn’t have said it any better.

After the storm of celebration and rejoicing must come the calm. The time to consolidate ones thoughts and energies.

Before I go on to the last couple of instructions, — I need to say this. While we rejoiced on reaching the top there are many who get waylaid for various reasons like finances, health, poor decisions, attractions and distractions or it could have been the wrong choice of mountain. It is okay to fail.

‘Our Greatest Glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fail!’ — Confucius

And as Nelson Mandela says “Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got up again.”

Make a promise

While on your climb you probably discovered something about yourself — a strength or strengths or perhaps some weaknesses too that you now know about yourself. Promise yourself that you will hone your strengths to use for yourself and others. And how about choosing another mountain after a long or short rest!!

Tell your story

In telling your story you could be an inspiration to others to nudge themselves to climb their own mountains with courage, determination and resilience.

And so to conclude this blog. It will not be complete without a mention of those who have mountains thrust on them without a choice. One can still reach the top with the help of all the instructions except for the first one. The choice will lie in the manner of acceptance of the mountain!!

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Phyllis Farias

Educational Consultant with 2 passions in life: the Child — from toddler to adolescent, and Education — education philosophy and psychology