What I Know for Sure
I just came in from a hike up the mountain in back of my house in Hawaii. Funny thing about a mountain: It always looks easier to climb when you're at the foot of it. My goal was to reach the top of the tree line—about 3,000 feet up from my house—in less than an hour. I started out strong, with good intentions, two bottles of water, sunscreen, my hat, and my golden retrievers, Luke and Layla.
A mountain, I realized more than ever today, is one of the great metaphors for life, reminding you that:
Challenges are often more difficult than they seem at the outset.
An ascent that at first looks smooth turns out to have unseen dips and ridges and valleys.
The higher you climb, the thicker the weeds.
You need a clear vision of where you're going if you want to avoid getting disoriented by the clouds that roll in and block your view.
You have to be determined to make it to the top. Otherwise every slip, stumble, and fall (all of which happened to me today, within that first hour) will give you an excuse to turn around and head home.
But I made a decision: I was going to make it to the eucalyptus grove at the top, no matter how long it took me. So I slowed down and stopped trying to meet a self-imposed timeline, forgot about how far the top was, and just focused on one foot in front of the other. Breathe in. Breathe out.
The result was that each step became its own accomplishment, and I took the time to look at the view from every level. Wow, I thought, I need to do this more often in the daily meshugas of my life.
I've been so focused on getting to the next level, I haven't enjoyed enough of the view from where I am. Years are a blur to me, and that's not just because I'm starting my 22nd season of the show this September and have talked to thousands of guests along the way.
It's because when you live life in the fast lane, as I have for most of my career, you end up speeding through, just moving to the next thing, doing more and more and filling your schedule until there's no time even to think about what you're doing. And as busy as I am, I often look in wonder at those of you who do all that you do and raise children and prepare meals every day and run a household.
I bow to your endurance.
As we're all blessed to witness another fall season here on planet Earth, I hope you're reading these words and thinking about your own life on adrenaline. And about how you, too, can manage with more attention to things that matter. Because with all that I know for sure, today I added this: It makes no difference how many peaks you reach if there was no pleasure in the climb.
I'm going to spend more time enjoying the view from here.
Printed from Oprah.com on Tuesday, December 10, 2013