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Reframe our Measure of Success

(Excerpt from the chapter "That Time I Shut the Day Down")

Most years, Rich takes our children, William, Eric, Daniel, Caroline and Michael, some grandchildren, and sometimes their friends up to the Uinta Mountains in Utah.

(L to R) Eric, Michael, Caroline, Jessica (friend),William, Natalie, Daniel

They put up camp along one of Rich’s favorite fishing lakes: Wigwam Lake. Rich gets up early to fish and the kids go climb up the mountains. A favorite mountain of theirs is called Eccentric Peak. This mountain and others in the area don’t have defined trails and are covered with large rocks. In order to climb, they have to find foot and handholds to help them balance and work their way to the top. After a day of climbing, everyone would

come back to camp showing off his or her cuts and bruises. They recounted the climb by talking about the times they “held on for dear life” or banged their knees or caught a foot in a rock. They talked about finding “just the right” rock to use to pull themselves up out of a hard place. The slips and falls are not proof of any kind of failure, but are part of the adventure, leaving marks they consider badges of honor.

Everyone works as a team to get to the top. William, also known as “Mountain Goat,” would lead the expedition. As the leader, he constantly helped the others manage the rocky surface and usually was the first to reach the top of the mountain. With his perspective, William could see easier paths for those who were behind. Rather than sitting at the top watching them struggle, he would work his way back down, show them the easier paths, and help them find the best way to reach the top.

William, Caroline and Justin

William’s success and skill did not cause the other climbers to be discouraged. They didn’t sit at the bottom of the mountain not wanting to try because they would never climb like him. They learned from him and relied on him.

After the arduous climb, regardless of the order in which they arrived, everyone enjoyed the breathtaking view. They would celebrate their accomplishment, look out over the beautiful scenery, and then carefully work their way down. It is interesting that as wonderful as the vista was, when recounting the climb, their narrative was focused more on the steps they took to get there, especially times they slipped, fell, or had to sit a moment and catch their breath. The view was the outcome of their journey: what they worked for, sacrificed for. It was the reward for “upward movement.” At the same time, the lessons learned on the way up were not looked at as failures, but as part of the upward climb.

Daniel, Michael, Caroline and William

Like the slips and falls up that rocky mountain, the difficulties of life become part of our success as we continue upward, leaving the worldly view behind for a measure of upward movement that reflects the eternal nature of motherhood and families.


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