someone who i know and respect very much tells this story:

a group of people decide they want to climb a mountain. they go to a guide and are told about the rigorous training involved. they will have to put in many long hours to learn the skills to make the trip.

as the weeks go by, the people build their endurance through exercise and work-outs with weights.

they are on special diets to help with their nutritional needs and to build their stamina.

they practice carrying heavy objects so they will be able to carry their packs on the climb.

they lose extra weight and work hard to put on muscle.

they learn about the breathing challenges they will face.

they are shown how to work all equipment they will need on their trip, from utensils for cooking food to first aid to setting up campsites.

each person buys many items of special clothing: socks, boots, cold weather gear, sweat absorbing layers, etc.

a team is assembled with guides and medics and people to help them carry the bigger objects they will need.

and finally, the long awaited day arrives. the weather isn’t great, but these folks are determined to push through it. over the next few days, there are minor injuries, lots of frustration, many tears, and some small mishaps. but the team pushes on, determined to climb that mountain.

several times they pitch a camp so they can rest. the conditions are so harsh that sometimes even when they sleep they are not well-rested, and they are less and less able to stick to their original schedule.

the group has never faced this many challenges, but luckily the have the support of the experts on their team.

after what seems like a lifetime, the reach the top of the mountain. and guess what sight they are greeted with?

a group of children, playing on the top of the mountain. they are romping around and having a grand time.

the hikers are in a state of disbelief. how could these children ever have gone through the excruciating training process necessary for this climb?

finally, one of the climbers sputters out, “hey kids- how did you get here???”

the children look at him quizzically. one leans his head to the side and answers, calmly and matter-of-factly, “we were born here.”

yes, blog readers, some people are just born on the mountain. we all have our own mission in our own life. i am not supposed to be the best linda stone i could be; i am only supposed to be the best julie bass i can be.

most of us have struggles. we are all born on different places of the mountain. some have a harder or longer climb, but we are all (or at least most of us are)  trying to reach that mountain peak.

lots of people had less than ideal childhoods. there may have been strife or death or divorce or poverty or abuse or neglect or any number of hideous circumstances.

but each person can be victimized by what happened to them, or they can strive to do better.

it doesn’t look fair that some people are born so much higher than everyone else. but i’m willing to bet they have their own struggles which are just as difficult for them as climbing the mountain is for us.

too many people never saw a happy marriage or children being raised well. too many never heard spouses speaking respectfully to one another, or saw conflicts being resolved appropriately. too many of us have no template to work from in our own lives. but we need the tools to climb that mountain, and to do better for the next generation.

so, assuming that you don’t want to wallow in your sadness about your tragic life, (and believe me- lots of us would be completely entitled to a little pity party now and then. i guess the point is to avoid making that your lifestyle of choice) and assuming you want to reach greater heights and create greater good, how can that happen?

i’ll tell you what i do. i find people who inspire me and i try to immerse myself in their words. i watch people who i think are getting it right and try to emulate them. i actively look for role models and if i can, i ask them loads of questions.

i try and sometimes i fail, but then i try again. and i try again and again and again and try into infinity if i have to.

i may be panting all the way, but i’m trying to do the work so my kids can be frolicking on the mountain.

i’m trying so hard not to look at other people with envy because they seem to have so many skills i lack. i know they have their own baggage too. if i knew their baggage, i might feel soothed, but that’s kind of cruddy that i would feel better because someone else is worse off than they appear..

i’m really trying to live MY life and stay on MY path and fight MY demons without getting caught up in the fairness or unfairness in how i perceive other people’s struggles.

i want so much to give my kids better than i had. every generation should want that for the next. i cringe in public and cry in private if i can’t bring up my game enough to meet the needs of one or another of my children.

i wish and i hope and i want and i beg and i try and i work. i work hard. and sometimes that still isn’t good enough.

and i think that those are the times that i need to be kinder to myself. i have to meet my own unmet needs before i can be a hero to anyone else.

so, i gather tools as i find them, and try to make each day a bit better than i found it.

and i look down and realize that, even though i still have a long long way to go, i have gotten pretty far up the mountain…