Friday, July 11, 2014

The mountain range

The mountain range has many beautiful mountains, but you seek to climb the tallest mountain in the world. It is so tall that you cannot see the top of it from ground level; clouds block your view. It is a curious mountain; it has levels of plateaus going higher and higher. The forces of nature and the wanderings of former explorers have left many paths and natural barriers between these plateaus.

You make your way to the second plateau and are preparing to continue your climb. You have a map and instructions to get to the third plateau. You realize that a map to any other plateau, for example, from the fifth to the sixth plateau, no matter how accurate, would not be of use to you at this point in time, and perhaps even be a distraction and hindrance to getting to the third plateau.

Following the map and the directions, you set out to find the correct path upward. Sometimes you get sidetracked and start to head in a more difficult direction, but someone who is at the third plateau and is watching over your progress can see you through a telescope and tries to shout down to tell you that you are going in a more difficult direction. The plateaus are so far apart that by the time the helpful voice gets to you, it is barely a whisper. But you listen for it, follow its counsel and stick back to the map’s guidance. After a series of temporary digressions and course corrections, you find your way to the third plateau.

Now that you are higher up, you have a better sight of everything below you; you can simply see more. Your vision has expanded. It is a breathtaking view. It is breathtaking because it is a beautiful sight. You see rivers and streams wind down the mountain; you see acres of fruit trees in the valleys. It is also breathtaking because it may be shocking. You see people trying to take shortcuts up sheer cliffs impossible to scale, in order to try to skip plateaus. They inevitably lose their grip and eventually slide downward.

You see someone proudly lead a group in what you now know is a limited direction. He boldly strides. “Who needs a map?” you hear his confident voice echo up to you. The others follow him to the top of a little foothill far below you, where they stop. He tries to convince the others that they have a sufficiently good enough view from there. Part of you wishes you could call out to him and point him in the right direction. However, the other part of you realizes that right now he may be unable to listen to instructions from others; perhaps in time he will become humble enough to backtrack in order to go higher.

You see another group of travelers. You notice that one of them begins to feel very tired, more rapidly than usual. When he stops to rest, he realizes that an enormous rock had been placed in his backpack. You see many people weighed down by various other burdens, and realize that they have to first become aware of the existence of those burdens in order to discard them.

After taking time to rest on this third plateau, you stride over to the beginning of the paths leading upward, where there is an old wooden box. You open the box and take out a map to the fourth plateau. Adjusting your gear and getting your bearings straight, you continue your ascent.