Mountain Thoughts: The Mountains are Calling
The whole world stretched out in front to me, as if there to put on a show for me alone.
Sure, the occasional Cheerio was scattered here and there across the surface, but it did nothing to mar my fascination with the countries laying out before me.
Yup, you can blame my parents for my raging case of wanderlust. My placemat at the table when I was a little kid was a map of the world.
The size of the world (either really big or really small, depending on how you look at it) has never been lost on me, even as a child. Seeing the boundaries of each country put into perspective just how many interesting places there are around the world, and the fact that they appeared on my placemat as no more than empty shapes meant that my mind could fill them with whatever enchanted forests, stretching mountains, or mysterious warriors I wanted.
Growing up in South Florida, where our highest elevation is literally a landfill, I mostly dreamed of mountains – real ones, not the kind filled with trash.
I was lucky enough as a child to see mountains all over the United States and Canada – the Appalachians, the Great Smokies, the Rockies, the Tetons, Cascades, the Sierra Nevada, the Blue Ridge, and the Ozarks – and I found that as impressive as those sites were aesthetically, what I liked best about mountains was their effect on people. Mountains make adventurers of us all.
I watched mountains transform my brother, who is normally scared of heights, to a fearless little boy bounding up a narrow trail towards the summit. I saw my dad, who wasn’t known for his physical stamina, turn into a gladiator with endless energy as we fought our way up the mountain. And I saw myself, sometimes shy, often lacking confidence, grow taller in the shadows of the peaks.
Those early trips across the United States combined with the endless possibilities of my placemat to show me that there’s a whole world out there, and it’s a world filled with mountains and adventurers, just like me. I’ve since visited every state except Hawaii, but the mountains never stopped calling; they’ve led me to Alaska, Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, Argentina, Jamaica, and soon the Azores Islands and Nepal.
My placemat is still speaking to me, too, encouraging me to strike out in search of other cultures in Ireland, Japan, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Curaçao, Mexico, the Cayman Islands, Uruguay and more.
The mountains are my favorite reminder of our own strength and the transformative power of travel. There’s something about being on peaks across the world that changes us and allows us to become the best, strongest versions of ourselves, even through moments of weakness and uncertainty. I love who I become in the mountains.
Anyway, it’s been fun talking to you guys, but I’ve gotta go – the mountains are calling.