Walk, Climb, Leap: A Metaphor for Personal Growth

Imagine yourself as an explorer of a new land.

You take walks to understand, with greater breadth, your immediate surroundings.  At first, your walks are random paths.  As you begin to understand your surroundings, your walks become more and more directed.  Sometimes, you stop and ask other travelers for directions.  You couldn’t find a map, so you’ve been slowly creating your own.

When you notice something interesting, such as a trail of foraging ants, you stop walking, pull out a magnifying glass, and observe that they are, for example, leafcutter ants.  (Perhaps you’re in Central America.)  You observe your surroundings with greater depth when you stop and focus.

Eventually, your world becomes familiar.  Life becomes comfortable.

You begin to yearn for a larger perspective on things.  There’s a mountain in the near distance.  You hike there and begin to climb.  It’s taller than you thought it would be, and the going is tougher than you expected.  You want to turn around at times.  Eventually, somehow, after much effort, you reach a subpeak.  The trees are very different at this elevation, as are the fauna and other flora you encounter.  You start walking again, start creating new trails.  At some point, you realize you’re much savvier than you were at the foot of the mountain.

Soon afterward, you realize that you’re comfortable again; everything has become, once again, familiar.  So, you start another climb.  You’re stronger this time, but that doesn’t make the climb easy.  Pretty often, actually, it’s downright demoralizing.

You stop at a breathtaking panorama and look around.  There’s a beautiful lake in the valley below.  You’ve never been to a lake.  You have no idea what that’s even like.  You’re dedicated to reaching the top of the mountain, though, so you keep climbing.

Soon, you reach the summit.  It’s a pretty small place.  You spend a lot of time there just recuperating.  You put your magnifying glass to good use, observing all kinds of interesting, unique phenomena you’ve never encountered elsewhere and documenting them in your journal.  Soon, you’ve filled almost a hundred pages.  You’re almost certain that you’re the world’s expert on the unique fauna and flora of this “island in the sky.”

You remember the lake in the valley below and ponder how to get there…

Ah, but your tent fabric is also used in paragliders!  You cut and join your tent fabric to create a paraglider, attach yourself to it, and leap off the mountain.

When you land on the lakefront, you meet a tribe of people you never knew about.  They show you how to paddleboard.  You find paddleboarding unusually fun–you never would have realized that without trying it out.  They also teach you how to fish.  That night, at a bonfire–you’ve also never been to a bonfire party–you roast the fish and find that it’s delicious and unlike anything else you’ve eaten.  You share a fresh mint-like herb from the mountain-top with the tribe.  They’ve never tried it–it’s completely new to them. They love it because it goes well with the fish.  You become friends.

If your personhood is a house, then you’ve added entire new wings onto that house since landing next to the lake with your paraglider.

After the celebration, you note in your journal that the growth-oriented person will not walk for too long in one place, nor imprison himself atop a particular mountain, nor avoid huge leaps to unfamiliar domains.


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