Everest is my inspiration. I say that because to stand at its top is to stand above the world. At the peak, some 29,000 ft. above sea-level, a person is literally lifted above any problem that they’ve ever faced. Below them is a world that has hurt them. Beneath where their feet stand is an exhaustive list of past failures. Every doubt, every fear, every known stress of that cruel cold planet below is suddenly gone, and all that is left is that person, that mountain, and that beautiful canopy of the heavens above.
Sir Edmund Hillary was credited, along with his Sherpa guide, Tenzing Norgay, as being the first to successfully reach its summit. These heroes accomplished the impossible, but not without first facing failure. After two dangerous attempts that both fell short and the constant reminder that many men before them had died pursuing the same thing, Hillary and Norgay prepared once again to face down death in hopes of eternal glory.
If Hillary’s past failure weighed heavy on him, he hid it well, not allowing it to be seen outwardly. Instead, his public demeanor was one of confidence and unrelenting desire. Hillary claimed boldly, and with earnest conviction that, “It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.” That same conviction powered the third ascent, and on May 29th 1953, Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay conquered themselves (and the mountain), forever preserving their names in the annals of history.
I may never reach Everest’s summit. Hell, I probably will never step foot in Nepal at all, much less even make it to Everest’s lowest base camp. In a number of ways– more than I can count– I am vastly different than those, who like Hillary, have challenged the great mountain, but even so, at my core I have something fundamentally in common with those great adventurers: I too have failed.
My failures have been both personal and professional. I’ve failed in writing, I’ve fallen short in publications, I’ve missed out on opportunities to write full-time, I’ve endured countless rejection letters, and even more “non-responses”, and to be frank, I’ve felt defeated more often than I have ever felt accomplished. Despite this, I simply cannot help but make Hillary’s message personal: It is not success in writing I seek to conquer, but myself.
That’s my pursuit. With each day I will push myself to grow just a little bit more than the day before. I am convinced that I will one day find a way to write full time. I know that somehow I will complete my novel and find a publisher. I’m certain that I will eventually find success, and though 2020 could be just the next of many failed attempts to come, I see the simple truth that my dream only dies when I decide to kill it.
Hillary made history because he kept the dream alive. My dream is still breathing, is yours?