My husband and I took a hike together last weekend and we were joking how the hike was basically a metaphor for how we approach life. We came across a fork in the road early on in the hike. The paths ultimately ended up in the same place, but one was straight up to what appeared to be the peak, and one was a mild hill with a winding path. We looked at each other and both instinctively forged up the steep incline. We laughed about how neither of us would ever think of taking the long, gradual way.
On the way up we ruminated on the steep path choices we have taken - have kids so close together, doing business school while simultaneously launching a business and having kids, running our two businesses at the same time, the extensive charity and political work we do, building a home while running businesses... and while we’re incredibly proud of our accomplishments, we reflected on the cost of this on our body and mind (perpetual exhaustion, not having time to feel proud or enjoy accomplishments, worrying about how we show up for our kids when we are so stretched) and began to fantasize about the long path a little. Shortly after this conversation we reached what we had thought was the peak only to realize there was another peak higher up.
So, we took a brief gander around and kept going, hungry for the best view from the highest point. This process repeated itself nearly four times, and by the fourth apex when we looked around we realized the value of the height was offset by the fact that we were marching inland, so ironically the highest peak had the worst view.
We realized that it was those mini peaks below that were actually the most stunning. So we thought about what those were in our lives? What were those mini apex moments where we had brief moments of joy and satisfaction but quickly reset our sights on the next climb? I can think of many inflection points in both our businesses, in our marriage, with buying a home. Birthing kids was certainly one of those moments as it was quickly followed by a desire for them to get older and sleep through the night, then be done with diapers, then talk... At what point do we stop and breath in the fresh air? Is the apex an illusion? What are we chasing? Is this actually the top of the mountain?
This is not a sad story. We love our life and perhaps this is human nature, or at least our nature, but I think it’s was a great realization and reminder that your mom was probably right; it’s the journey that counts. And while there is no end to this story, I’m not dead yet; we decided to take the long way home.