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The Climb

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We stood at the foot of the mountain, staring up at the task above us. The mountain’s jagged peaks were like broken teeth reaching towards the skies. I looked to my uncle and asked, “Are we really going to do this?” He flashed a white smile and said nothing, but the twinkle in his blue-green eyes told me I already had my answer.

My calloused hands and wiry fingers sweated with anticipation. I felt the determination like fire inside of my belly. We had spent weeks of preparation for this one moment; weeks of hard training and conditioning to give us the means necessary to conquer this rocky beast. I was fearless to the core and it was time to take action.

I bent down and grabbed a handful of hot red sand, rubbing it into my palms and letting it escape through the crevices between my fingers. My first hold called to me, it begged me to grab on; I complied and lifted my body from that sun-dried ground. The warm rock beneath my hand sent a wave of pleasure and excitement through my tense body.

Hand after hand we crept our way up the mountainside, as its peak called our names. Out of the beautiful silence my uncle’s voice rang out, “Don’t forget to use your legs! Your grip will give out far before your leg strength will!” “Worry about yourself old man!” I replied with a hearty laugh. Right when I felt that I could go no further we reached a ledge in the rock upon which we could rest our exhausted, sweat drenched bodies.

We shed our packs and peeled the shirts from our backs before collapsing onto the hot rocky ground. After we lay there for a few moments I grabbed my blue nalgene water container and put it up to my mouth. The water rushed past my parched lips like a flash flood and I felt the cool relief as the sweet water ran down my throat. I threw my damp and now cooled shirt across the back of my neck to bring down the temperature of the blood racing about my arteries. “This is hard work,” I said. “You want to quit?” my uncle asked. “I will never quit,” I replied with fierce determination. “Then let’s go,” he said.

With renewed vigor, I began to climb again. I felt as though a fire was inside of my belly and it burned for victory, it burned to conquer this mountain and the fire would not be quenched until I did so. With each handhold I grew in confidence; higher and higher I went. The feeling of invincibility overtook me as I crawled up the jagged face of this beast.

The final hundred feet of heated rock lay above me. “We’re almost there!” my uncle shouted, “Remember the battle is not in your body, it is in your mind.” I begged to differ, my limbs were on fire, my hands were on fire; but I told myself I was not tired. I pushed forward and soon only fifty feet lay above me, twenty-five, ten. The final hold to pull myself onto the top of the peak was in my grasp. I grabbed and pulled with all my might. My weary body shook violently in protest as I lifted myself onto the summit.

I lay there trembling, not willing to stand up quite yet. I had done it. My mind had won the battle, and I had defeated this beast of a mountain. It was time to revel in the glory; my uncle grabbed my hand and pulled me up. As I looked up it felt as though my eyes had been opened for the first time. A whole new world lay at my feet; a world full of life and opportunity. That day I learned the value of perseverance and from then on anything was possible.



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