So many of us live life as if it is a mountain to be climbed: a struggle to reach the place where everything will be settled, where happiness, fulfilment and meaning are at last enduring and secure.
“No time to stop”, we cry, “I’m too busy climbing”. It’s the narrative of many organisations as well as individual lives. And in the frantic ascent we rarely get to feel the rock beneath our fingers, breathe the air, or notice our travelling companions in their struggles beside us. We suspend our lives.
If you live this way, particularly if you have some influence over other people, you’ll draw them into the story with you. Before long, everyone’s joining the scramble to the top in the hope that life’s questions will at last be resolved. And being bound to the mountain becomes its own form of slavery with its own profound suffering.
Because there is no place where everything comes good as in a fairytale or as promised in ‘The Secret’. At what we took to be the top of the mountain, even if the view is breathtaking, are the same human questions of belonging, meaning, and contribution, and the same fears of isolation, death, freedom and meaninglessness. Life at the ‘top’ continues to be life, in which everything is provisional and changing, full of joys and sorrows, pain and healing, delights and sadnesses, light and shadow.
Giving up the struggle to the top that was never there is difficult. But perhaps it can free you, at last, to be up to something bigger than securing for yourself the fairytale promise of our times. And, crucially, it frees the people around you to join you in doing the same.