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What Ends the War?

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At 11:00am (Paris time), on November 11, 1918, the guns fell silent over the battlefields of Western Europe. In a railway carriage parked in a forest located about 40 miles north of Paris, France, the Armistice was signed by representatives from both the Allied Armies as well as those in the enemy forces of Germany.

Students of history will know that this hour and day has now been remembered as the day the war ended. It was the Great War, or the “War to End All Wars.”

What is not well-known is that a peace treaty was not reached immediately. The Armistice went through three revisions until the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919. It would be almost six more months until the actual treaty became effective on January 10, 1920.

The Great War took the lives of just shy of 10 million military personnel from both the Allied Powers and the combined enemy forces consisting mainly of the German Empire, Austria-Hungary, and the Ottoman Empire. It is estimated that approximately 7.5 million civilians were also killed.

There are times that the thunderclouds of war obscure the reality of hope and the future. Such was the case even within theological circles. A doctrine, known as postmillennialism, was widely adhered to within mainstream denominationalism. This is simply the teaching that the world will get better and better, and ultimately, it will usher in an age of peace for all of mankind after which Jesus Christ will return.

The events leading up to World War 1, and its eventual aftermath, destroyed the cherished dreams of theologians, politicians, and the general populace. The fragile calm that prevailed during the first decade or so of the 20th century allowed many to think that the rapidly developing world would become a peaceful utopia.

Sadly, the politics of government festered underneath the surface. Previous wars between enemies helped to fuel the fires of discontent, and the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo in June 1914 simply was the spark that would bring mayhem and destruction to the countries of Europe.

In fact, the unresolved conflicts at the end of World War 1 continued to devolve the relationship between the signatories of the Treaty of Versailles. Hatred, bitter disputes, and the unreasonable restrictions of the peace treaty saw the rise of the Third Reich of Germany and, of course, the bloodbath that became known as World War II.

One little known fact about the end of World War I is that fighting actually continued in the early morning hours of November 11, 1918. Both the Allies and the German forces knew that the Armistice was due to be signed, but the Allies took advantage of the upcoming surrender. They attempted to get the upper hand in the trenches just in case and this resulted in almost 11,000 more casualties. Out of those casualties, almost 3,000 of them died.

One casualty was an American soldier who charged German troops and was shot 60 seconds before the war ended. It is said that this soldier was the last casualty of World War I. Truly, this would have been a tragic way for a soldier’s life to end with only 60 seconds separating him from being able to safely return to his waiting family back in Baltimore, Maryland.

One hundred years later, our small little planet continues to be racked with pain and turmoil. Governments insist on sending troops into battle for the sake of political gain, while troops march bravely thinking it is all about freedom.

Freedom is elusive though and few will recognize that we have less freedom today than were present 100 years ago. Successive wars during this last century have brought us no closer to a peaceful utopia, and peace treaties signed hold no true validity. Hope is vain for those who depend on countries and governments to do what is right.

Remembrance Day 2018 should be a solemn time for us as we dredge the pages of history. We must try to learn from the tragic mistakes of our past and the past of our ancestors. If we do not, then we will fail even more miserably than did the generations of our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents.

Will their sacrifices be in vain this Remembrance Day? Will more have to die in the elusive search for glory that ultimately only offers the destruction of the souls of men?

Peace cannot be produced by governments who are determined to only look after their own self-interests. If we fail to learn this truth, then they will all have died in vain.

— Originally Written at Warrior Writers on Medium.

end-war

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The Gollum Crutch

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In the 1937 book, The Hobbit, we were introduced to the creature formerly known as Smeagol. The name of Gollum was given to him later.

Of course, anybody who has ever read the book, or the subsequent trilogy “The Lord of the Rings” will know that the creature was in possession of a special ring for a very long time.

This ring actually extended his natural life and later he would die due to the relationship he had with the same ring.

Gollum had a way of repeating himself and one of his phrases regarded the ring that he labeled “my precious.” In the end, while he hated the ring, he also loved it without ever fully realizing the power that was held in the gold band.

The problem is that the “precious” controlled his life.

He tenaciously wanted to hang on to it even though it was also destroying him. Gollum went to great lengths to use the ring in order to get his own way with others.

The “precious” that he HAD to have was never good for him.

In some way, humans can be the same as the storybook Gollum. We may find a “precious” that we must have and we refuse to let it go. The reality is that what we find to be precious is something that we think we HAVE to have.

In a more dangerous position, sometimes the “precious” can become a crutch that we MUST have in order to make life work for us.

The “precious” can be money, a trinket, a hobby, or even a relationship. If the “precious” is not in our possession, then life becomes miserable and we can even use it to make life miserable for others.

Sadly, even life itself can be our “precious.”

We don’t want to grow old and we tend to fear what comes after. We watch our loved ones and friends grow feeble and die, yet we want to clutch them to ourselves. Sometimes, it can even be a selfish motive or reason.

As an illustration, I remember what transpired when we were living back in England and helping to take care of my grandmother.

She was precious to me and yet, as she was coming to the end of her life, I selfishly did not want to see her go. She had been an integral part of my life for almost 40 years. The end of her life saw her facing a great deal of pain, and finally, at almost 87, she succumbed.

In the years prior to that, I had also lost my British step-grandfather, who was very special to me. He died at the age of 96. My brother, who was just shy of his 23rd birthday, passed away from a massive heart attack.

Through all of this, there were times that I selfishly wanted to hang on to them.

They were best friends, not just relatives.

Yet, I can look back to those days shrouded in pain and grief, and I realize that part of life is learning to let them go. There is absolutely no way that I would want to bring them back to this dark world or keep them living in pain just so that I could have them as a crutch.

I have written about using things or people as a crutch before, but it is good for us to be reminded that crutches can be dangerous.

Instead of having a simple appreciation for the possession, or a profound love for the individual, we can actually be a hindrance to ourselves as well as to them by making demands that only suit or work to our benefit.

There are a few reasons that crutches fail.

First, inevitably, they are only about us. Gollum did not care about others, even when he claimed to have Frodo as his master. Gollum only used Frodo to stay close to the “precious.”

Second, a crutch puts others at a disadvantage because it demands more than they are prepared to give. Or, what it unreasonably demands is something they are not aware of and that is being required in order for the friendship or relationship to remain in place.

When we MUST have a new car, or a new house, or a new computer, or even a new friend, then we are succumbing to the “power of the ring.”

All that occurs, in the end, is that we become a slave within ourselves.

Ultimately, when a person is involved, we are actually making them a slave to us and to our desires.

A relationship cannot be built on what we MUST have from another in order to make life work. A proper relationship is built by learning what and how we can share together. We can hold others in high esteem, but we cannot hold them back in life or in death.

How or what can we change so we do not become like Gollum?

1. Remember that life is fleeting and death comes to all of us. Our lives will come to an end sooner than we will probably anticipate.

2. Remember that possessions are temporary. Therefore, they come and go. Hold them loosely and give freely to others who are in need.

3. Remember that relationships must be cultivated to the mutual benefit of all parties involved. This takes hard work but it is rewarding.

4. Remember that life is not about what others do for you. Life is learning to be there for others, even in the hard times.

In conclusion, there is nothing wrong with having special things.

There is nothing wrong with building relationships with those you love.

It is what we do with those things that will make the difference in our lives and the lives of others.

— Originally written for “Live Your Life On Purpose” at Medium.com

 

Failure in the Box

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You probably have no clue, but you have a problem. In fact, it is the same problem that I have. It is not a new problem, but one that has existed for quite some time.

If you think you know what the problem is, then you are probably mistaken. Very rarely will you find a person who even knows how to correctly identify the real reason why the problem exists. This problem is not just an isolated case though. It causes continued failure practically every time that it makes an appearance.

At this point, I should probably give you fair warning that the real problem is going to shock you. Therefore, I will wait until you are sitting down comfortably. Grab a coffee, tea, hot chocolate, or a stiff drink.

Ok, here we go.

The real problem is YOU!

If you are thinking inside the box, then you are the problem! If you are not developing a mindset outside of the proverbial box, then you are the problem.

Before you get upset, please let me explain.

When we started our lives in kindergarten, certain things were expected of you and I. We followed along with the plans from the establishment. At the end of the year and with much pomp and circumstance, we were graduated to First Grade. Woohoo! Parties, ice cream, cake, and presents made us feel special, but we were just like everybody else.

Each year a new grade came and went. Elementary school finished and moved us into junior high, and then into high school. Each milestone produced another graduation and we again felt special. However, more likely than not, we were just like all the others. We were NOT different.

12th Grade — Senior Year — Class of ???? — Standing there in cap and gown, you and I insisted that we were going to be the graduating class that changed the world. But, we were all the same.

This has been drummed into us all of our lives. Are the teachers at fault? Yes, they must take some of the blame, but at the end of the day, they face the same problems that you and I face. They are a product of what they were taught to believe, namely, that everybody else is the problem.

Our lives in front of us, we either go to learn a trade, go to university, or begin a menial job. Each day, we continue to add to the reason why we are a failure.

Business school, success seminars, #1 best-selling books all contribute to the sad reality that YOU ARE THE PROBLEM. You have allowed yourself to buy into what we are spoonfed every day.

Still not sure what I mean. Let me give you a few examples.

“Be like Mike!” — The problem is that YOU will never be Michael Jordan. YOU will never even be like Michael Jordan. YOU cannot be Michael Jordan. YOU cannot play like Michael Jordan. Why? YOU are NOT Michael Jordan.

Take a person like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Donald Trump, Barack Obama, Mahatma Gandhi, Princess Diana, Mother Theresa, or any other famous person that you can think of. YOU will NEVER be any of these people.

So, why get stuck in the box of thinking you can be? If you think that YOU can succeed by becoming just like somebody else, YOU will fail miserably. YOU will remain the real problem. YOU will continue to lack the strength to stand out from the rest of the crowd who are doing the exact same things that you are doing.

Even in your talents or skills, YOU will never be like somebody else. There was only one Beethoven. One Michelangelo. One Buddha. One Julius Caesar. One Michael Jordan. One Bill Gates. One Princess Diana. One Michael Jackson. One Will Smith. One _______________ (fill-in-the-blank).

To the delight of my adoring fans, there will ONLY ever be one ME.

Ultimately, there will ONLY ever be one YOU!

Stop being the problem and locking yourself into the boxes that you have built. NO matter how hard you try, and no matter how long you try, you will never be somebody else.

If you going to be successful, you need to break free from all the boxes that you have allowed yourself to be put into down through the years. You need to remind yourself that your talents and skills are yours alone.

However, there is a danger that YOU must avoid. If you follow this simple principle, you must work diligently to encourage others to do the same.

Personally, I hate “How I Did…And How You Can” type books. The real reason is because I do not act, think, speak, listen, or behave like the person who has written the book. Even if you and I followed every single step just like the “successful” person has done, we will ALWAYS reach a different conclusion.

The entire point of this blog is this –

If you want to write, then write, but don’t try to write like everybody else.

If you want to play sports, have a career, whatever you want to do, then just do what you have set your heart and mind to do. However, don’t imitate others because you are TOLD that is what you MUST do in order to be successful.

You have the freedom to choose your path. You have the availability and the responsibility to think outside the box. You have the choice to blame others for your failure or to accept that you are not where you want to be because of YOU.

Relish your new freedom.

Be different.

Be unique.

Let the real you shine in a way that NOBODY else can duplicate, because nobody else is JUST LIKE YOU!

The Bonfire

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From what I had heard in my short life, John Steinbeck had written a book about mice and men.

I hated both. Mice and men had sought to ruin my life, and it was for that reason that I was on the run.

Leaving my brief stint in a factory in upstate New York, I fled in the middle of the night for parts unknown. Without realizing it at the time, I instinctively knew that I would never return. Family and friends were forsaken and the only way that I felt I would remain safe was to never look back.

The decision had been made for me and yet I could not recall how or where the danger started. It seemed in my early life I was destined for greatness. Not meaning to appear puffed up with pride, I was however proud of the fact that I was at the top of my class in school.

Catching a ride with a few truckers, I finally arrived to where I thought I would call home. There was no way, even in the modern internet age, that my enemies would ever find me here. However, I also knew that I would need to remain extremely vigilant. If the mob came after me here, I would not be able to hide a second time.

Thinking back about that fateful day, I knew I should have contacted the Witness Protection Program. But what good would that have done, I reminded myself bitterly. All the alphabet soup organizations in America were out to bring me down just like the mob I had left behind.

Blending in, I found a new home in suburbia. The place was a little small, but at least I started making friends almost as soon as I had moved in. Most of my neighbors were sweet, while others I tried to stay away from. Regretfully, I had to learn the hard way that most of them were trapped in the existence of their own self-importance. I chose to remain as anonymous as possible.

Ominous clouds began to overshadow me late that fall when I remembered that Halloween and Thanksgiving were right around the corner. Something was wrong and I just could not figure out what the problem was. It started when some of my neighbors started disappearing. In the midst of the all the turmoil though, nobody bothered me.

For a short time things began to calm down, and some of my friends called one evening with an invitation. It sounded like what I needed to relax. I agreed and a week later, I went outside to find a roaring bonfire already keeping the night warm. Not being much of a drinker, I declined the offer of a free drink and just stuck with some of the food that others had brought. I must admit that I felt a little guilty not bringing anything myself, but I also knew that not everybody liked my kind of food.

It was a split second look, but I knew that I had been made. I thought I knew all of my neighbors, but this particular fellow had a wild look about him and the more I stared I realized that murder was on his mind. Thinking back over everyone I had met, I realized that this was not a neighbor at all. Shocked, I realized that the man had somehow already killed some of my friends.

If I tried to leave, I would just bring attention to myself, so I stayed as still as possible. In my mind though, I was already planning my next escape. How could they have found me? Why could I not escape the carnage of my past?

Shuddering, I recalled the flashing knives as they had brushed against my skin. Some of colleagues had not made it out alive that fateful night, and now it seemed that mayhem was going to return to my new quiet neighborhood.

Across the flames, the man stood to his feet and stretched. His nonchalance may have fooled all of my neighbors, but I knew he was coming for me. I turned to run, but I could not seem to find the necessary strength. With resolute abandon, I turned to face my foe, and noticed that my neighbors had fled into the darkness.

Picking up a weapon, he grinned menacingly and spoke in a haunting manner.

“My friend, you thought you could escape, but there is nowhere you could run where I would not have found you. You should never have tried to escape!”

Resigned to my fate, my life flashed before my eyes. He raised the weapon and with a quick lunge, its point ran right through the middle of my body. Collapsing, I caught myself falling toward the fire as my strength failed me completely.

My foe looked toward one of his friends and I heard him speak one last time as I descended into the abyss that never ends.

“Hey Trenton, these huge marshmallows are really tasty. Would you like one as well?”

Written in response to Warrior Writers Prompt #25

A Drudge First?

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Ignacy Paderewski is not a name well-known in many households today. He was born in a city now located in Ukraine.

However, he was hugely instrumental in seeking the favor of President Woodrow Wilson to help Poland became an independent nation that was not part of the Russian Empire.

However, for those who know music well, the name Paderewski is synonymous with the playing and composing of classical music.

At just 18 years of age, and as a mark of the skills he had particularly in playing the piano, this man was offered the opportunity to become a teacher at the Warsaw Conservatory, which is one of the largest and oldest music schools in Europe.

Over the course of his life, he gave many concerts around Europe and the United States.

It is said that at one concert, a woman was enamored with him and his playing. After several minutes of this unwanted attention, the great pianist is said to have stopped her and said, “Madame, before I was a genius, I was a drudge!”

Each of us has the ability to do what we want with our lives.

However, many of us do not avail ourselves of the opportunities that present themselves. We might want to take advantage of them, but we are not willing to be a drudge first.

For example, I might say that I would LOVE to expertly play an instrument, or that I would LOVE to speak fluent Mandarin. The reality is that I do not play an instrument with a great degree of skill, nor do I speak fluent Mandarin.

The question is not whether I have the ability to do either of those two things for I have the ability to take lessons and learn how to play.

The real question is this

What am I willing to give up in order to become good at what I say I love?

A person who wants to be the best in their business will spend time researching and studying the lives of those who have been successful.

A person who wants to play an instrument must be willing to turn off the television and spend hours mastering the scales and arpeggios.

A person who wants to become fluent in a different language needs to find others who speak that language and learn the nuances of the language as well as the culture.

The truth is this. While I say that I would LOVE to expertly play an instrument, I do not really WANT it bad enough to make the necessary sacrifices.

I am not willing to become a drudge in order to be considered a genius in the field of music.

It is particularly true in the West that we live in a fast-paced society and culture. We want instant gratification. Why take years to learn scales and arpeggios if somebody could wave a wand and magically impart such a skill to us?

I am glad that there is no such wand for we would not have great appreciation for the skills and years required to become a genius.

If we want something bad enough, we MUST learn to make sacrifices. We MUST be willing to learn from others. We MUST stop trying and thinking that shortcuts will still allow us to become a genius.

Squibble Squabble

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Call me old-fashioned.

I’ll wait.

Ok, do you feel better now? What’s that? Oh you want to know why I am old-fashioned?

Well, I am glad you asked. Allow me to share a few thoughts that I had while shopping at Sam’s Club earlier this afternoon.

After avoiding some classically rude drivers who were either in a hurry or who had run out of blinker fluid, we arrived at our destination. Signaling that I was turning down one of the parking lanes, another individual coming from the other direction seemed upset. They had the wrong turn indicator on, tried to speed up, and then almost rear-ended a pickup truck. Speeding past me, I lost sight of them as I turned down the parking lane and found a place to park.

Going inside, the normal noise associated with shopping in a warehouse greeted the ears of my son and I. For the most part, I hate shopping — with a passion. Sometimes, I choose to go to the store though so my dear wife does not have to always face the maddening crowds.

Today would be no different. Two people took a cart from the lady at the front without a word of greeting or a thank you. We had been inside the front door no more than 3 or 4 seconds when she pulled a cart up for us and apologized for the delay! Wow, that is some service. We thanked her and wished her a good day.

A quick shopping excursion and we use the Sam’s Club app. This app is so cool. It allows you to scan EVERY item (including produce) as you put it into your cart. Then, when you are finished, you can pay right on your phone with your credit or debit card and walk right out the door.

Have I ever told you how much I hate shopping? Well, if more stores had apps like the one I use at Sam’s Club, I might just have to change my mind. However, I digress.

Stopping at the Deli though is an inevitable delay. After all, no son in his mid-20’s would EVER contemplate walking out the door without making a stop for a hotdog, a polish dog, an ice cream, a soda, or whatever he felt he needed to tide him over between “second breakfast and elevenses.”

And this is where the problem started.

Walking around to find an empty table, there were only about 3 out of 20+ tables in use. I planned on going to the far end. Skirting the outer edge, a handful of kids almost ran me over. One of them pushed my cart out of his way as he held a small puppy in his arms. There was no parent with any of these children. The next few minutes involved one of the older kids on a pair of shoes that have roller wheels on the heels. None of these children were more than 8 or 9 years old.

The puppy let out a few squeals and squeaks as his holder squeezed him, almost dropped him, and then placed it off and on one of the tables. Did I forget to mention that these are the tables located in the Food Court?

My son brings some food and the couple sitting next to us makes several loud comments about the dog being in the food area while the little boy’s older brother continues to skate around the front of the store. Not once did he say anything to the workers or to the customers that he almost ran over. Incidentally, one of the managers stood at the front and never said a word to the boy even when he almost hit her at least once.

The children finally sat back down and a woman showed up with cups and food. The next conversation is not repeatable or printable in my estimation. Together, the mom and her children engaged in a rather foul conversation peppered liberally with vulgar swear words. The puppy just sat on the table and looked sad.

On our way out, I asked the cart-checking gentleman about the store policy regarding pets. He informed me politely that while he could not do anything about it, Sam’s Club has rules that clearly state pets are not permitted in the Food area. In fact, if you do not have a service animal, then the animal is not permitted in the store at all. I asked him why he could not and he replied that only management can say something, but only if they feel like doing so.

This brings me to the main point of my post.

Our society has degraded to the point of ridiculous foolishness. Rules and principles of decency are no longer upheld. The parents have no control of their children because they have no control over themselves. Parents, like the mother in question, have zero tolerance for anybody but themselves. Her attitude and potty mouth reflect a lack of respect for others including her own children. Hearing F-bombs from the lips of children, including one who was only three or four, is abominable.

The managers of the store refuse to say anything though because we live in a society where many do that which is right in their own eyes. If you confront a problem, you are liable to get cursed at or berated or maybe on a really bad day, you will be threatened with a lawsuit for daring to uphold the rules of the store.

However, the problem does not end there. Those who refuse to obey the easy rules or the common decency guidelines of life will eventually have no problem breaking bigger rules and even the law. Parents who think they are entitled to say and act however they want in public with zero regard for others is teaching their children to do the same and worse.

When I was growing up, if my siblings and I (at that age) had dared to be so disrespectful to others, at least half a dozen adults would have called us on the carpet, the manager would have been called to give us a good talking-to, and then we would have been disciplined when we arrived home for disrespect to others and for bringing disrespect to our parents.

One of the reasons that I hate shopping so much is not just because of the crass commercialism that inundates every aspect of the human mind and spirit. However, that is another reason that may just get a new blogpost soon.

The real reason I hate shopping is because I get sick and tired of seeing mamby-pamby, lazy parents being hit, mocked, or berated by children who have never been disciplined.

Part of the problem with the latest generation is that they have never learned the meaning of the word — NO!

We have taught our children through the years what we were taught as youngsters. When a child is told “NO”, it is their little spirit that is rebelling because it is what is in their hearts. When a child is 2, 3, 5, 7, 9, and sometimes even older, they are not bringing any wisdom or coherent debate to the table when they are told “NO!” Further, when a child does not learn what “NO” means before they can walk and talk, then the parent will be in for a rough ride.

However, the reason why the latest generation does know the meaning of the word “NO” is because most of the Gen-X and Millennial generation that has given birth to the latest generation never learned what the word “NO” meant. They feel entitled. The world OWES them, and sadly, when the world delivers a hard lesson that nothing is owed, then the child/adult takes it out on those around them.

History will reveal that this is probably one of the saddest generations in modern existence. Niceties, pleasantries, and good manners are almost as extinct as a two-humped Bactrian camel.

Is it possible to turn this around? Yes, but it will take a long time. People will have to stop being afraid that they are going to offend everyone and anyone by what is said. Common decency still requires us to look out for others.

In fact, for being a so-called Christian nation, we fail miserably for Christ Himself gave two commands. First, love the Lord God with all your heart, soul, mind, and body. The second is like the first, love your neighbor as yourself.

There is no third commandment to love yourself. That is a worldly philosophy that is driven by a selfish, worldview that no longer has God in view. An extension of the problem seen in the world today is the playing out of this humanistic philosophy. The world keeps telling you to love yourself more before you can do something for others. In turn, this destroys the responsibility each human has toward others.

To conclude, I was not upset at the children. I told my adult son that I felt sorry for the children for the way they were being raised. I told him that I was sad that their mother had no control over her own little children because she obviously had no control over her own life. As a selfish, self-centered individual, she is raising her offspring to be just as selfish or worse.

More to come…

Free Solo

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El Capitan!

Located in Yosemite National Park, California, this granite formation reaches over 3,000 feet from base to summit. A popular location for those who enjoy rock climbing, it is also the featured backdrop of a new upcoming movie. This movie, Free Solo is from National Geographic and is the story of Alex Honnold.

Personally, I am not afraid of heights, but watching the trailer for this movie made my stomach churn. This young man, who is 33, climbs without ropes or any safety equipment.

Simply put, if a free solo climber slips, they fall to their death. There are no second chances. They must get it correct or they pay the ultimate price. Free solo climbing is a dangerous sport to be sure, and many of those who have tried have died in pursuit of their chosen hobby.

Ironically, the word “Yosemite” means “killer” in the language of the Miwok tribe, and it is this national park that holds the holy grail of rock climbing.

While the climbing of El Capitan strikes fear into the hearts of many, I believe that it also represents the path of life on many levels.

First, like rock climbing, life is not easy — for anybody.

Second, rock climbing offers no guarantee of success. Our lives are no different. There is no guarantee that you will be successful in any aspect of your life. Even our next breath is not guaranteed.

Third, rock climbing requires skill, dedication, and perseverance. It would be easy to take your first step onto the wall and then quit, but it takes much more than that in order to accomplish your goals. Life is no different. Some choose to quit before they have barely started. Allowing life to skate by them in the fast lane, some can become lazy.

Fourth, rock climbing has different degrees of difficulty or levels that can be achieved. The path of life has peaks and valleys, but it forces us to determine the difficulty at which we will make the ascent. For example, a person who is good at science may choose 8–10 years of difficult education in order to become a skilled surgeon. Another individual may take up a trade to become the best worker they can be, but it still takes work. One path is not any better or any worse for any particular person; however, what you do with the path does tell what kind of a person you truly are.

These four aspects reflect why rock climbing can be compared to the path of life. However, there are also aspects of rock climbing that are not the same in life.

Some choose to climb with safety equipment and others choose to climb with no equipment. For those who are successful on the day of their climb, they can go back and attempt to climb the mountain again. If you make a mistake, you can learn from it. Rock climbing allows you to try different routes and learn from the mistakes of your previous climbs.

Life is different. You will never have the opportunity to go back and redo any second that has passed. A cross or angry word spoken in haste can never be retrieved. It is impossible to reverse the clock in order to change a decision made foolishly or wisely. While it is possible to recover from an error, you cannot undo the fact that the error was made in the first place.

For example, if you are speeding and get stopped by a policeman, you cannot undo the reality that you were speeding. You can allow your error to change your habits in the future and thus keep from getting another speeding ticket, but you cannot redo the actual error.

In conclusion, I plan on watching this new movie, and yes, my heart will probably stop a few times as I watch Alex succeed in his lifelong ambition. However, every new handhold or foothold that he finds will give me renewed strength to remember that it is possible to achieve the goals that others think you cannot reach. I will remember that the granite walls of life are meant to be climbed — one small bit at a time. Easy parts and hard parts will not change my direction unless I give up.

If I do feel like quitting, I will try to remember that there is beauty at the top of each peak. I may not see it while I am in the valley, but when nothing obstructs my view at the top then I will know that I have completed my course. I will have little that I will feel the need to regret.

My El Capitan awaits. Time to continue the climb!