View From the Plateau

by: Doug Michaelides

In just about any significant human endeavor, there are alternating cycles of big effort (and hopefully big achievement) separated by pauses to regroup.  Upon reaching these plateaus we reflect on our accomplishments, consolidate our success and, ideally, catch our wind before tackling the new challenges on the next leg of our journey.

People who accomplish amazing things spurn the comfort of plateaus for the adrenaline of the continual climb.  It’s foggy up ahead but they don’t look back.  They’re driven to press onward and upward towards the peak they know is there.  Some of the unlucky ones slip into crevasses or are swept back down the mountain by an avalanche.  The tough ones pick themselves up and start over.

But some people confuse reaching the plateau with having scaled the summit.  After the rough first-stage, the view from the plateau is still pretty impressive.  And it’s hard not to be charmed by the respite that it offers. Soon they are spending their time avoiding landslides rather than trying to scale the next slope.  Sometimes they convince themselves that they are still climbing when they’re really just wandering around, scrambling over rocks but not gaining any more elevation.  Eventually more dedicated climbers pass them by on their way up the mountain.

There is no shame in camping out on a plateau.  It is a comfortable and safer existence.  Just don’t confuse it with mountain climbing.

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