Ain’t no cookie for Mt. Everest

You know why scaling the mount Everest is so goddamned difficult? Because you can’t do it for a cookie! A lot of things we do in life have an immediate payoff. Eating douses hunger. Sleeping provides rest. Busy work wears off the day. Moving the hand away from the hot plate prevents pain. Easy stuff that we don’t really fuss about. The difficult things are good for us only in the longer run or have an indirect benefit. Eating your veggies. Being financially wise. Controlling the urge to poison your enemies. These difficult tasks, as good as they are for us, require discipline and psychological trickery; an assemblage of proactive or forced carrots and sticks. We get by.

But some tasks are so herculean and life defining, that no reward (or punishment) is big enough. Such tasks are their own reward. You know accomplishing them will transform your being to an extent that your life will acquire a new meaning. Their perceived monstrosity overwhelms our senses to the point of submission. There is no fight or flight; we just freeze. The worst part is, they do not provide any sense of gratification as you progress because the going only gets tougher. There is no felicitation for doing them half way either.

But there are huge “head fake” rewards of even attempting such endeavors. Every other step challenges you to push your thinking deeper and wider. The willful exposure to struggle increases your threshold for perseverance. Failing at them teaches you about yourself and affords a sense of humility. So, if you ever find yourself standing at the base of your Everest, just start climbing. No matter where on the way to its top you crash and burn, you’ll be stronger, wiser and more accomplished than your undecided self standing frozen at the base. And the scenery up there is breathtaking; it alone, they say, is worth the effort.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *