Knowing How It All Turns Out Isn't The Point
Life lessons while hiking
Occasionally, I can be spectacularly brilliant. An example of my brilliance? I combine research with leisure activity – I read articles while sunbathing on the beach and listen to podcasts while taking a hike.
I was recently on one such hike listening to a podcast I’ve become obsessed with – “How I Built This” with Guy Roz. It’s a great podcast – Guy Roz talks with entrepreneurs about how they got started, what twists and turns waited for them on their path, and what they’ve learned along the way. On this hike, I had time to listen to two terrific interviews, makeup legend and revolutionary Bobbi Brown, and WeWork owner Miguel McKelvey.
Both interviews were fantastic and filled with fascinating insights – oddly, chance encounters in elevators were features of both stories.
The reason I had time to listen to two full interviews was because I spontaneously decided to veer off my hike onto a path I had not yet taken. Although I was on a time limit, had no water with me, and had not yet eaten breakfast, I was sure I would be able to turn back if the path got to be too much.
See where this is going?
Naturally, the hike got much harder than I anticipated and, given my lousy sense of direction, I was nervous that I had gotten myself too far in a direction I didn’t want to travel and it was going to be too late to turn back.
At this point, when the trail turned a corner and I couldn’t see where it was headed, or whether I had bitten off more than I could chew (so to speak), I had to appreciate the synchronicity of listening to these stories whilst literally traversing an unknown path myself.
So I took a picture of that moment:
I literally could not see what was coming. And I was tired, hungry, thirsty, and worried about time. There was no going back, I didn’t know what was in front of me, and there wasn’t a shortcut available because the side of the path was a steep incline through bramble.
But I was also listening to Bobbi Brown who was saying that the point for her was never to be a billionaire (being a millionaire was just fine), the point for her was to have a fulfilling life professionally and personally. Bobbi Brown was in my ears, in my head, saying that she had had no idea she was going to be as big as she got, as successful as she is – that she just kept walking ahead and taking the opportunities as they came.
So I laughed out loud, kept going, and took this shot a few minutes later when I crested the hill:
This spectacular view was waiting up ahead the whole time I was on that path. I would have missed it if I hadn’t kept going. And, as importantly, when I turned around and looked at where I had started, I saw this:
Of course, where I was coming from was as spectacular as where I was going. Once I paid attention of course. Once I looked up from the dirt path, stopped thinking about water, food, time, and fatigue and really took in my journey.
Now, I’m not saying this is every moment. And I fully understand the privilege I have to even be able to write about listening to podcasts on my Apple phone while taking a walk in the middle of a gorgeous day in California. One percent of the one percent. Got it.
But the visual lined up so beautifully with the verbal, the reality lined up so perfectly with the audio, I had to put it down in writing. The word “blog” was silently screaming at me.
So I’m putting this down for me. So I’ll remember. I’ll remember to enjoy the path. To remember there are many people on much harder paths than me. To remember that the destination may be beautiful but it doesn’t end there and it doesn’t negate the beauty of the starting point. To remember that not knowing how it all turns out isn’t the point. Paying attention is the point. And that part is up to me.