We’ve believed that somewhere, at the top of the mountain we feel like we’re climbing, everything will be alright at last. We’ll be fulfilled, at peace, happy.
And so everybody’s climbing the mountain, and everybody else seems to be trying to sell us something that will get us there more quickly. ‘Buy this product’, the advertisements scream, ‘and at last you’ll be ok. At last you’ll be able to rest’.
So we climb, faster and faster, harder and harder, exhausting ourselves along the way. We’re sure the answer is at the top. We tell ourselves, ‘When I have that job, that house, a beautiful lover, children, money, fame, the right car, or body shape, or clothes, an advanced degree, my name on a book, when I retire, I’ll be there’.
And the climb becomes more frantic, more determined, because it seems that other people have reached the top of the mountain already. Film stars, celebrities, billionaires, models, TV presenters, novelist, the people in the next street with the nicer houses, your friends – many of them look like they have it together, that they at last have reached life’s destination.
There are books, and courses, and coaches and products that promise you all of this – that there’s some secret to the climb that’s right in front of you if only you’ll buy it, some magical way to accelerate you to the top.
And all the while, you’re hardly in life at all. Always postponing, always deferring, and piling suffering upon suffering as you compare yourself with others who seem to be further ahead, living the life you should be having.
But the mountain has no top.
Each crest simply hides another, and the genuine, heartfelt relief that comes from reaching it is soon replaced by the understanding that you didn’t arrive yet, that you have further to go. Gradually you realise that staking your life on reaching a peak that never existed isn’t what you’d bargained for.
Or – alternatively – you discover that you’re already at the top of the mountain. And that you always have been.