They say that with age comes intellect, but this is not consistently true. For I have met stupid people of all ages and for the most part the truly stupid ones just get more stupid with the passage of time. Of course this is taking the concept out of context and viewing it in a literal sense. Basic education and common sense aside, what this age old saying is saying about old age is that age equivalents more experiences and through experience wisdom is acquired. Sadly, once again, this isn’t entirely factual. Some people experience experiences and the only knowledge they gain is that they’ve experienced an experience. These folks will arrive at the bottom of the hill with little or no more wisdom than they had when they began climbing up the other side.

“The Hill” is probably the most referenced and recognizable metaphorical analogy of aging and a human being’s lifespan. Even those who have only experienced wisdom can easily grasp the concept and create a visual image: cradle on one side, grave on the other, hump in the middle; simple enough.

However many cannot comprehend, conceive, or consider that we’re not all climbing the same hill. Not only that but everyone’s hill is different, no two are the same. Though yours may pass by another’s and you might be able to help their ascent, you can’t climb their hill with or for them.

Some hills are treacherous with rugged terrain and deadly cliff-falls from start to finish. Others are smooth, graceful arches, with little or no friction and are just as easy to climb as they are to eloquently descend. These climbers are the ones that grow old gracefully.

Some hills are mountains, which peak above the clouds and take an eternity to conquer. Others level off early to an open plateau offering an effortless, casual trek to the other side. Sadly, some are nothing more than molehills and are spanned in mere minutes. Yet we will make mountains out of these, because no climber should be left behind or forgotten.

The vast majority believe that, yours or not, it’s not about the hill but the climb. It’s all about the challenges encountered by the climber on the way up that make and mold us into whom we truly are. That it’s the struggle to the top that defines us. However once you’ve reached the top, if you’ve gained anything from climbing, you begin seeing things from a whole new perspective.

For a moment you are king of “your” hill. This does not necessarily mean you are the king or queen of anyone else’s. They have their own monarchy to run; but for now you are at the top of yours. It is in this moment, as you look back down the paths you have taken, that you realize something: it’s not about the climb or even the climber, it never was, it’s all about the hill! You see, the hill existed before you and legacy pending will be there when you’re gone. The hill doesn’t need you to climb it but without it you cannot climb.

With this comes the awareness of the multitude of hillsides all around, of countless other climbers. There were climbers before you and there’ll be ones after and that it’s not all about you, never was, never will be but at the same time it is. For you are a member of a much larger expedition and as you crest the summit you should be well aware of your place and purpose. This self-awareness will be an invaluable asset as you begin your descent.

So will you backslide down, clawing for the top, even as your feet hit bottom? Or will you step down with dignity and with your head held high as you make your way down the slope? It’s your decision… it is your hill after all.

On a lighter note: Happy Birthday to me! “Ladies and gentlemen, as we start our descent, please make sure your seat backs and tray tables are in their full upright position. Make sure your seat belt is securely fastened because we’re still in for a helluva ride!”

I welcome almost all questions and comments via FOCUS, or me directly at [email protected].

Hope to hear from you, until then try and stay focused. See ya!