Life as a Fourteener

The view from Mt. Elbert, 14,433 feet

Looking back on the past 30 days leaves me with that happy exhausted feeling I used to get when I climbed ‘fourteeners’ in Colorado. We would set out early in the morning, eager to tackle all 14,000 plus feet of the mountain, and we would simply keep putting one foot in front of the other until we reached the summit. After an all-too-short rest, we would take another trail off the mountain, scrambling down the narrow paths just off the peak, and trip along, completely drained, as the path gradually eased into a horizontal line.

You couldn’t think too hard about what you were going through in that moment, or you would psych yourself out of the journey. All you had to do was take the steps and try to enjoy the trip. But once you were down, it was amazing to remember all the different levels you hit – long walks through rolling fields by little creeks, steeper switchbacks through narrow trails crowded with foliage, finally breaking treeline and feeling like you could finally breathe again, boulder scrambles the last mile or so, and finally hitting the summit. Then you would repeat in reverse with gravity helping you down.

Here are the different stages of the past 30 days: quitting the internship I thought was going to be my big break, getting a promotion (though still unpaid!) at the magazine to online arts editor, considering store management and selling more clothes than I ever knew I could, applying for grad school for the fall, attempting to enter the dating scene once again, and interviewing with schools in Chile and Russia for teaching positions.

Bertrand Russell talks about happiness and how it’s easier to attain if you don’t allow yourself to overanalyze every move. He says to make a decision and then forget about it, not thinking about it again until you have new information that could change your direction. So I’ve knocked on all these doors and am waiting to see which one opens for me. And for the first time in my life, I’m not overanalyzing it. Normally I would be in bed with a nervous breakdown, but I’m determined to lift up my head and try to enjoy the journey.

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