Perspective

final-summitIt’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see. ~Henry David Thoreau

As we approached the completion of our trek along Chimney Tops trail, the anticipation of triumph battled with the exhaustion in our legs for supremacy. After two miles and a steady ascent up 1400 feet, we could taste victory. Beholding the final climb, however, it became apparent that our hiking skills were no longer needed. We were now called upon to become rock climbers. Fatigue had taken the lead.

If you could transform yourself into any creature from the wild, which one would it be? I had been posed this question as a youngster in grade school. With so many options to choose from, which direction do I go? Do I choose the mighty strength of the lion? How about the swift speed of the cheetah? Or perhaps the resilient adaptability of the giraffe?

With all the obvious choices already taken, I was reluctant to follow another’s lead. Perhaps I should have chosen the stubbornness of a rhino. I was determined to be different and unique. With a little more thought and a flip through my virtual encyclopedia, I settled upon a bird. As I look back on that time in my life, I realize that although my bullheaded mind insisted on being different, a less obvious influence was at play. Perspective.

red-shouldered-hawkI have always been the person to look at something and twist it around like a pretzel. Looking at everyday occurrences from different angles, I am able to gain a deeper appreciation for what is right in front of my eyes. There is magic in everything. The ordinary can be extraordinary when you look at it with a fresh perspective. Like our avian friends soaring above, a birds-eye view often provides a fresh perspective on our daily lives.

Proud husband interlude 😉 My wife took this stunning photo of a red-shouldered hawk at the Viera Wetlands a few days ago. A talented artist, she has perfectly captured the beauty, majesty, and keen perspective of a bird in this one image that has not been altered in any manner. Way to go sunshine 🙂

Back to our conquest of the Chimney Tops trail. As we gathered our strength and began the final ascent, it became apparent that Mother Nature was intent on providing us with an additional challenge beyond the rocky terrain. Although a delicate breeze whistled through the trees, the blazing sun was heating the rock façade to temperatures worthy of a fried egg.

In an effort to reach the summit and with the noblest of intentions, I began serving as director for my son. Put one foot here. Now, take your left hand and put it there. See that little crack over there. Good, put your right foot in there. With each step, we were closer to the summit, but the narrowing rocks also placed us closer to the edge. One careless step could have dire consequences to say the least. I would venture to say that I was the more anxious one.

After several attempts at a precarious juncture in our climb, my son finally caved in and dejectedly conceded that he just couldn’t do it. With tears streaming down his face, a figurative black cloud settled over us on that mountain. Crestfallen, it took every ounce of energy to focus on the return trip to the base of that final summit.

Never, never, never give up. ~Winston Churchill

The energy expended over those last several hours had left us fatigued, both physically and mentally. To be quite honest, at that point in time, I would have been happy to traverse back down the 2 mile trail and call it a day. I am glad that my son did not feel the same way. After much internal turmoil, his tenacity for setting a goal and reaching it shone through. That figurative black cloud over the mountain was lifted and a guiding light from the sun replaced it.

On that second attempt, my son was resolute and unswerving. His destiny was to reach that summit. Although my wife and I provided insight into the recommended steps, he ultimately chose his path. The route that made the most sense for him. In looking back on that afternoon, I learned a valuable lesson.

We all have our mountains to climb. We can take guidance and inspiration from those around us to help along the way. But, ultimately it is our path to blaze. When we are able to step back and look at things from a different angle, we adopt a new mindset that serves to shed light on the path we are meant to take. A path that is uniquely our own. And when we do reach that summit, the view gives us a new perspective on what it means to be on top of the world.

view-from-the-top

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13 thoughts on “Perspective

  1. MRS N, the Author September 24, 2013 / 1:12 pm

    Thank you for this beautiful reminder, Dave! So many times, when facing a challenge, I can only see my way out by looking at it from another perspective. 🙂

    In answer to your question, I would choose to be a bird but for a totally different reason. I love being outside, wind in my hair and with all my might, I would love to fly. But alas, I didn’t come out of the womb with wings. To be able to glide across a field of beautiful flowers and to see the world through different eyes… that is my version of Heaven! 🙂

    • davecenker September 24, 2013 / 1:17 pm

      It is probably not coincidence that I have such an avid passion for all things aviation. When soaring across the skies as pilot of an aircraft, you almost feel as though you are a bird soaring across the sky. Fresh perspective indeed 😉 Thank you as always for your wonderful comments and have an inspired day!

      • MRS N, the Author September 24, 2013 / 1:19 pm

        I haven’t flown in an airplane since 2004 but I can see what you mean. 🙂 You’re welcome and continue to be inspired, Dave! 🙂

  2. Jennifer September 24, 2013 / 2:05 pm

    Wonderfully written. I don’t think I will ever forget that afternoon, our hands literally burned from the hot rock and our son in tears and really, really upset because he so badly wanted to reach the top of those rocks. I was a wee bit frightened with the sheer drop on either side of the rocks but I knew in my gut that he could make it. When we made it back down after the first attempt, I could see in his face that he just did not want to give up and I was incredibly proud of him as he gathered his strength and courage back up and tackled the rocks again….the look on his face when he crested the summit was one that will always be in my memory

    • davecenker September 24, 2013 / 2:11 pm

      The entire gamut of human emotion was experienced on that day. I was also very proud of him for the courageous choice he made to never give up on his goal. He keeps proving to be my best teacher each and every day 😉

  3. MarquitaHerald (@MarquitaHerald) September 24, 2013 / 7:02 pm

    What an inspiring story Dave, and I love the images. I’ve always had a bit of a thing about heights, so I’m especially impressed with ALL of you for making that climb! Your analogy about perceptions is so on the money, and really represents the foundation for the notion of living a resilient life. We have two choices, view life’s inevitable challenges as obstacles or opportunities. Thanks for the inspiration. 🙂

    • davecenker September 25, 2013 / 8:34 am

      Thank you for your kind words Marty! To be quite honest, I think I realized on that hike that I am not overly fond of extreme heights either. Ironic, since I love to fly 😉 However, it was so rewarding to reach that summit. Not because it was a momentous accomplishment. But, because the anxiety and uncomfortable feelings were faced head on and surmounted. Opportunities abound everywhere, that is for sure! Thank you, as always, for your thoughtful insights. Have an inspired day!

  4. alyssamichellefrench October 1, 2013 / 9:53 pm

    Dave,
    What a great message! It can be so tempting to try to help someone by providing them with our version of the solution. Oftentimes it is far more helpful to just be supportive and encouraging as they find their own way through a problem. Thank you so much for that reminder! Your hike sounds wonderful, and congrats to your son (and you and your wife) for making it to the top! Also, you always include such pertinent quotes in your posts; I almost used the Henry David Thoreau quote as an Inspiration for Your Day post recently!
    -Alyssa

    • davecenker October 2, 2013 / 8:20 am

      Thank you as always Alyssa, it is great to see you back in the blogosphere 😉 I am definitely an inspirational quote kind of guy. I always find motivation and desire to “do” something after reading an inspiring quote. The inertia builds and it often leads to positive occurrences in my life. And Henry David Thoreau seems to have quite a few in my book 🙂 One of my all time favorites:

      Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined. ~Henry David Thoreau

      Thanks for bringing that front and center once again. I hope you have an inspired day!

  5. Sara Ann October 3, 2013 / 4:59 pm

    Love your outdoor adventure spot. Nature is such a blessing.

    • davecenker October 4, 2013 / 8:04 am

      Absolutely, it probably isn’t a coincidence how a majority of my posts originate from an experience in the natural world around us 😉 Thank you for sharing and have a wonderful day!

      • Sara Ann October 4, 2013 / 9:17 pm

        The outdoor world around is the only world which really exists, right? 🙂 Love!

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