Have you ever visited the Great Wall in China?
Back in 2010, I made a breath-stealing climb of the Great Wall at Badaling. Dirty snow packed the corners. The wind cut through my clothes and slapped my face.
There’s a saying about the Great Wall, I learned: “There’s always another peak.”
You climb and climb and climb. In places, the stone stairs are so steep, you have to use your hands and crawl like Gollum. You pass through the watchtowers, with Chinese graffiti inside. You see the Wall plane off up ahead. And when you finally make it, you realize there’s another peak in the distance, that’s higher than the one upon which you stand. You realize you can never actually “make it”.
There is no destination on the Great Wall. The Great Wall is the destination.
I encounter many creatives, entrepreneurs and solopreneurs trying to “make it”. So many hours. So many sacrifices. Even bitterness in some.
Our lives are filled with coming and going. Busyness. Movement. Beginnings. Promised Lands.
We are seduced by destinations. By “making it”. By arriving.
What if, instead of putting our energy into our comings and goings, we put our energy into always becoming?
Then, no matter where we find ourselves, we have something to do. Something to work on. Something in which we can lose ourselves. If only for a moment.
There’s always another peak.
So we might as well enjoy the place we’re at. It can be an ass-kicker. But it sure offers some incredible experiences. Not to mention a few stories for the grandkids!
From May 2012 to July 2013, I wrote a weekly series of intimate essays for writers and artists seeking a deeper connection with their identity and place as modern creatives. I called this series Root Notes. This was an essay in that series. It was originally published on May 2, 2012.