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Conquering Your Own Mountains

Life can be like a walk through the mountains.  At times we are able to see the beauty of where we are at; other times we seem lost or even scared.  There are those times though that you realize why you are here and that you are so glad to be alive. 

Recently I had an experience that was like finding a beautiful waterfall.  The family and I went out for a walk to the park.  No sooner had my older daughter, Megan, grabbed her bike, than my (at the time) 4 year old, Ciara, asked, “Daddy, can I ride my bike?”

Now she didn’t know how to ride her bike yet, but we have this handle on the back that comes up about 18 inches from behind her seat.  Imagine the old days of the banana seat with the back seat bracket that connected to the rear hub (back tire) extending up another  18 inches.

As I was looking for a little more exercise than just walking to the park, I agreed to jog along and stabilize the bike as she rode.  As she rode I started to take my hand off the bike lightly and let her “feel” the bike a little more.  By the time we had gone a half mile she was able to ride the bike about 20 feet without me holding on.  By the time we got to the park she had gone from not being able to ride a bike to riding it 20-40 yards without me having to keep her from crashing.

My wife and I sat on the park bench and talked as our kids played tag at the playground with the other kids.  I was anxious the whole time to get heading back, because I wanted to see how far Ciara could make it back without my help.   When it finally was time to go, she put on her helmet, grabbed her bike and looked for me to grab the back handle.  I got her set straight then just took my hands off.  Baring a couple near crashes with a few posts that seemed to jump out in front of her, she rode all the way back to our house (a little over a mile) without much help at all.  As I jogged next to her, she kept turning to me say, “Daddy, I am riding my bike and you aren’t helping.  Daddy I am riding!”

Waterfalls are powerful, and so are moments like that.  They refresh and remind us to be glad to be alive.  Isn’t this the truth for these “Daddy” (Mommy, Grandma, Grandpa, Uncle, Auntie, etc.) moments?

That night the family and I went down to our local “Tuesday Night” street fair.  They have vendors, food, hot rods, and music.  I picked up a hot dog for Ciara and a grabbed a chicken sandwich for myself.  We sat ourselves down on the curb next to my wife and other daughters to listen to the music.  As a preview to one of the songs the singer was about to sing she told the crowd, “you can have all of the great materialistic things, but just remember that you can’t take it with you.  You should live for today.”

Likely I am one of the few people that gets this funny feeling up my spine when I hear that.  Maybe it is because I am a financial advisor and I listen to people come into my office and tell me how they can’t afford to retire or they aren’t making enough money, etc.  It typically isn’t because they don’t have money; it is because they spend it.  And statements like this are at the basis of a lot of poor financial decisions.  There are plenty of things we can do that are a great way of living, for example, spending time with your kids and watching them conquer challenges in their life will bring you more joy than a new car will ever.  Going to visit your grandkids can lift spirits more than a great meal at a fine restaurant. 

There is a balance to life.  We can’t take any money with us, but we will leave a mark on the world.  Be it with our families, friends, or colleagues.  What will your mark be?  How will you be remembered?  Are you willing to live today like there won’t be a tomorrow, BUT save like it will? Can you, today, plant your feet firmly in the days work, but cast your eyes on tomorrow’s mountains?

Building your life in this fashion will give you more joy than you can imagine.  For when you walk into your next valley you will be more prepared for what is there.  Are you balancing today’s living, while being aware of tomorrow’s reality?  Are you spending money like you will die, or are you living with purpose working on those relationships that will leave a positive mark on the world?  Are you challenging yourself to conquer your own mountains as Ciara conquered riding her bike? Today think like a child and realize that if you keep your mind set on something long enough, you too can ride… be prepared to retire, be prepared for college expenses, spend quality time with you family or change your job.

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