I always find when I come back from a conference, like Blissdom, or a retreat…or even a trip, it’s like coming down from the mountaintop. Up there, the air is fresher and it’s easier to breathe. Up there, your perspective is clearer and you can see miles away. You get a glimpse of a blissful future and because you’re up high, sometimes a road map on how to get there, begins to unfold. It’s a bit dreamy and romantic. Up there, the voices in the valley are quieter and you are left alone with your thoughts. You get in touch with yourself again…apart from the day to day roles you play. Your head is in the clouds and the picture you see, seems so clear, without obstructions.
You have to come back to the reality of the day to day. At first you enter the “valley” with renewed vigor, goals, to do lists…to get closer to that vision you glimpsed on the mountaintop. But, over time, you get overwhelmed with routines, chores, other mundane to do lists and you feel as if that vision gets blurred and begins to fade. You can get discouraged, overwhelmed and begin to wonder if what you saw on the mountaintop was a figment of your imagination…you begin to wonder if you made it all up in your head.
I know people who hop from mountaintop to mountaintop, trying to hold on to the high. I get it. I love those peaks (I even got married on one!), I believe in those moments, but I’ve also learned to appreciate the day to day for the gift that it is.
The “valley” is complex and beautiful. It’s rich with personality, relationships, colors, textures, structures and music. It hums and sings it’s own rhythm. Sometimes it’s so rhythmic, it lulls you to sleep, but the tune always changes. It has to. There’s so much input and stimulation for the melody to stay the same. The valley is where we pound out, walk out that path…that leads to the vision, the dream. Yeah, it’s hard and tedious…I could insert Miley’s “It’s the Climb” right here, but I won’t…it takes work and sacrifice.
The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination. ~Don Williams Jr.
The mountain strengthens us through the climb and inspires us by the view. The valley teaches us tenacity, hardwork, perseverance and often patience. But, it’s usually the time in the valley that gets it done…that gets us closer to our vision or dream.
In Jon Acuff’s new book Quitter, he calls it the “hustle”. (Read Chapter 6) It’s the simple hustle that gets us closer to our dream.
I don’t know about you, after long seasons in the valley, when I make it to another mountaintop, I appreciate what I see and feel, all the more. And, I begin to look at the mountain view from the perspective of the valley. I think we need them both.
Which do you prefer, the mountaintop or the valley? Or have you come to appreciate both?