As you drive into Sequoia National Park, you wind up this two-lane highway to reach the main tourist attractions. The road is so curvy your insides get jostled back and forth, even though you’re able to control your outer body from rocking.
On the ascent, you can see the beautiful Moro Rock from different angles. It looks completely out of reach, this distant gigantic granite rock resting at the very highest peak of the park. It didn’t seem possible that a road could even get you to it. The friends I was with told me you could climb to the top of it. I didn’t believe it. From my vantage point, I could not believe any possible way that someone could climb this unreachable rock without a giant harness and rope, and it wouldn’t be climbing, rather you would be lowered down by a helicopter.
As we got closer, we followed the signs that guided us to Moro Rock. We parked and followed the other tourists, my friend telling me you don’t actually climb the rock, you climb the 400 steps to the top of the rock. (In 1931, crazy people built steps into this rock so people could climb to the top. Crazier people built wooden steps in 1917, luckily the less crazy people found a safer means of exploration).
We got to the base of the stairs and warning signs were everywhere.
Caution! Lightning could strike you so be on the lookout for stormy clouds.
Caution! Do not proceed if it’s icy.
Caution! People have died while climbing this rock!
Not quite the welcoming signs you want as you begin this trek up the stairs that you can’t even see because they disappear around the corner of the rock. But at this point, I was really excited to see what was at the top. To experience the climb up. I weighed the risks and decided to go for it. You only live once, right?
With each step, you are further away from turning back and closer to the excitement of reaching the top. By the halfway point, it’s so cramped you have to hug the side of the rock to let the people headed back down get past. You’ve now become part of this unreachable rock and to the people looking up from the road, you are that rock. They see nothing but that same distant rock you saw just hours before, out of reach and mysterious. Yet you are now experiencing life while they are still contemplating whether they can get to the top.
When you do reach the top, it’s exhilarating. It’s just this narrow bridge of rock with rails on either side. You’re head is literally in the clouds and your view infinite. You see that little highway you drove up and the tiny toy cars driving along it. You look out across the southern Sierra, with the highs of 13,000 foot peaks and the lows of the San Joaquin Valley.
You breath it all in and it’s like you were never scared of the journey at all. You were so worried that the climb would be too much, the altitude along with the incline would keep you from reaching the top. You had these images of you plummeting off the side of the rock, tumbling to your doom. Yet each step up, you were in full control. Even when it got really steep or the gravel made you change your footing, you knew to adjust. The excitement outweighed the fear and you knew deep down you could do this no matter what scary images were running through your head.
After taking in the beauty of the panoramic view, I started the descent back down the rock. I felt like I was running. I knew what to expect, I knew when to cling to the sides and when I could go a little faster. When I first looked at that rock from the highway, I was just one of many that had no idea what it felt like to be at the top. Once I decided I was going to climb it, although I was nervous, I didn’t turn back. I pushed on because I saw myself at the top of that rock. I decided no matter what I would come across along that path, I had it in me to reach the top.
I have these moments of true decisiveness, true clarity that I know no matter the fear or risk, I am going to follow through on a vision I have in my mind. I may not know how or when, I may not see a clear path, but I feel it in my soul that it’s going to happen. People may doubt you, or warn you that others have tried and failed, but it doesn’t matter. The vision is planted in your head and no matter how unreachable it appears from a distance, something within you keeps pushing you forward towards it. And as you get closer, not only is something inside pushing you, but now external forces are pulling you towards it. The more you believe in your vision, other people start believing too and they help push you towards it through their encouragement and support.
When I figure out I want something, when that vision takes root in my mind, I want it immediately. The more I think about it, the more details I imagine, the more the roots attach themselves. This is what I’ve come to realize though. As long as I visualize myself peering over the infinite view rather than staring up at the unreachable distance, I will keep taking the necessary steps towards that vision, adjusting when I need to, accepting the risks…moving instead of standing in the same place. It doesn’t matter if it takes a month, 6 months, 5 years, or 50 years, if it’s worth it, you put in the time and effort to make it a reality. It doesn’t matter if others have tried and failed. It’s your journey, you are in control, you take the leap of faith, you believe and everything else falls into place. It’s one step and then another and then another…and it’s so worth it when you reach the top.