30 Jun One Step at a Time


While climbing a 14,000-foot mountain (14er) on a beautiful, sunny, Colorado morning, I wondered how many steps it would take to reach the summit.  I know there is a precise answer, and getting up there is in essence solving a math problem.  The average person’s stride length is approximately 2.5 feet long, which means it takes just over 2,000 steps to walk one mile.  That meant I was going to walk about 10,000 steps in the five miles to the top.  As I hit the steep portions – the ones that make you ask yourself why you’re there – some of my stride lengths could be measured in inches rather than feet.  I wondered, how many of the 10,000 steps would be easy, how many would be hard, and how many would be moderate.  I know the answer equals 100 percent, but I realized the deeper implications.

In the five and half hours I climbed to the top and back down, I only spent seven minutes at the top enjoying the summit view.  The scenery was breathtaking for sure, but the real joy at the top was simply knowing I got to the top.  I pushed through the hard parts – however many steps that was – and had the satisfaction of knowing I am still capable of pushing through adversity.

The math conundrum got me thinking about life in general.  Reaching the summits in our life isn’t where the real joy comes from.  It’s knowing that our accomplishments meant we pushed through those “steep” sections. We also learn that there are always undulations, and the hard steps don’t last forever.

There are 54 14ers in Colorado, which means I still have 33 summits to conquer.  I know that there are a certain amount of “steps” required, and I know that 33 summits multiplied by 7 minutes means I will spend about 231 minute enjoying some views!  That’s less than 4 hours of “joy” for 33 days of “work.”  If it was all about the summit (the “joy”), the ROI doesn’t seem to be there!  We all know the summit isn’t what matters; it’s just a way to keep score.  There will always be plenty of summits to aim for, but the journey, with hard steps and easy steps, is the real test of our spirit, and that’s where real joy can be derived.

  • Monique B. Roth
    Posted at 13:58h, 03 July Reply

    Helo Jan,

    Love your analogy! Talking about figuring out the steps, my “new” favorite toy is a FitBit and it fits on my waistband or as a bracelette. It tracks just about everything and eases the pain in my head from doing the math calculation. Best of luck in your future journey and the joy derived! Monique

  • Jan Rutherford
    Posted at 14:17h, 03 July Reply

    Thanks, Monique! I’ll have to look up FitBit. Have a great Independence Day! -Jan

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