There’s a photograph of me from 5 years ago.
I sit atop Huayna Picchu, a mountain overlooking the ancient aztec ruins of Machu Picchu in Peru.
The word that comes to mind every time I look at this photo is… Freedom.
I woke before dawn to climb the mountain. My friends and I walked across stone steps laid thousands of years ago by a people who could not imagine the lives we live today.
As the sun rose across the mountains, I smiled and wondered if I would ever feel this free again.
Let me ask you a question. Can you remember what you were doing 5 years ago?
How did you feel about your station in life? Your freedom?
What I remember most is my certainty, or as I like to call it, my shit-suredness. Naive as I was, I never dreamed my life would take place anywhere but a mountain top. Yet as the warmth of the sun washed over me, the view of the mountains all around me, dark valleys waited below.
On this mountain, so high up, the air felt different. It tasted better.
Everyone seemed to be on the same mission. Scale the mountain. See the scenery. Breath the fresh air and feel grateful for it all. It did not matter what language you spoke or what country you came from.
In the low valley, it was a different story.
Uncommon smells ran off the thick brown river as hustlers and thieves worked-over tourists for their money.
Cramped busses and vans filled with people, packed tightly like a mother’s suitcase. Everyone was irritable and arguing over who was sweating on who.
In this photograph I am grateful to be at the mountaintop. I was with people who loved me and who I loved back and far from the angst of the valley.
But if you are familiar with Newton’s third law, “what goes up, must come down” you know there is a story at the base of the mountain too. A darker story.
It is a cliche to talk about mountains and valleys like the triumphs and failures of life. For good reason.
When we say we are at the highest highs and the lowest lows, we might feel as if we are atop a glorious mountain or in the trenches of a dark valley.
While I look back to this photograph, almost exactly 5 years ago to the day I write this, I realize my ultimate motivation in life has not changed. Nor do I think it will ever change.
Dear Friend, FREEDOM (screamed atop my lungs like William Wallace in Braveheart) is what I am after.
If you are on a similar search then this blog may be for you.
You are free to stay or go. But I hope you will stay.