It was one of those ideal days where the air was warm and thick, but a breeze blew cool and crisp under the heat of the afternoon sun. I was sprawled out over a boulder the size of a small car, and basking in the glorious sunshine way up high on a mountain peak in the Wind River Range. It had taken days for my family and I to backpack out to these remote mountains, and just yesterday we had left the vibrant life of the treeline behind in favor of the wild extremes of the peaks. As the mileage count climbed, so did the altitude, until we were wandering past fresh mountain springs and fields of wildflowers growing in rocky soil. Snow warmed in the summer sunshine and melted into frigid, crystal clear lakes spotted with rainbow trout. The still silence of the sunsets melted into the wild howls of the coyotes at night. The endless views blurred into one splendid globe, just as the many days blurred into one single adventure. Here up on this peak, I was winded from scrambling up the rocky slopes, sunburnt from the rays that had beaten down on my shoulders all afternoon, and blistered from my sturdy hiking boots. Yet I was the happiest I had been in a long time. A mere speck to the eagle flying overhead, I lay there under the big blue sky, relishing my insignificance.
I believe that it was high up in the peaks of the Wind River Range that I truly unburdened myself for the first time in my life. Not in the sense that I abandoned all responsibilities or disregarded all commitments, as that would’ve created quite an unsafe trek into the mountains. Rather, I was able to unburden myself when I realized exactly how small I truly am. Sitting there in the sun with the rugged terrain of the earth stretched out before me, I was able to instill some perspective into my life.
Seeing all of the life that burst forth from the mountains allowed me to realize how miniscule I am in such a vast world. When viewed with a magnifying glass, my problems were stress-inducing, however when viewed in the grand scheme of things, they appeared merely trivial. I became less anxious in the realization that this planet, so broad and intricate all at once, would carry on despite any of my shortcomings. The earth’s orbit would not pause if I were to disappoint someone. The majestic elk of the mountains would not delay their hunt for prey if I were to fall short of my goals. The vigorous currents of the deep blue sea would not fail to send waves crashing to the shore if I were to miss a game-winning shot. No matter what I did, the earth, in all of it’s expansive glory would press on, never missing a beat.
For some, this realization may be disheartening, creating a feeling of insignificance and defeat. However for me, this realization created an attitude of fearless freedom. It made me more confident to take risks, to strive for things I may have earlier shied away from. This new perspective change did not radically alter my life, or cause me to make reckless and bold mistakes. Rather, the realization of my relative size in regard to this boundless planet settled in the back of my mind, pushing me toward great achievements. I reached for goals without fear of failure, knowing that even if I failed, I would press on like the earth, never missing a beat.
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