Subject: The Summit Is Only the Excuse for Being Here

Welcome to Celebrating the Journey!
Monday, September 25, 2000
Issue #35


1. Welcome Notes
2. The Summit Is Only the Excuse for Being Here
3. Coaching: Where Are You Losing Your “Here”?
4. The Origin
6. Humor: Quotes From George W. Bush

1. Welcome Notes

Winter has visited us on this third day of Fall! I awoke
this morning to freezing temperatures and a dusting of
snow that delicately frosted the yellow and red leaves
donned for autumn by the aspen trees and scrub oak. As I
write this several hours later, the sun is peeking out from
behind the gray snow-bringer clouds, and the world is a
sparkly place! I hope the changing of the seasons brings as
much joy and beauty to you, wherever you are.

I am always grateful to hear from readers who have
received Celebrating The Journey by way of a current
subscriber and enjoyed it enough that they subscribed
themselves. Usually they subscribe through the website,
and I don’t hear about it except as a notification of a new
subscriber. This week, however, a number of you emailed
your appreciation for what you’d read and asked to be
subscribed. Thank you; both for subscribing and for taking
the time to let me know that you enjoyed CTJ.

Welcome to all our new subscribers, the ones whose
names I have seen and the ones I have not. CTJ grows
when you share it with people. I ask that you do that. The
magic number this week is four. If you enjoy this week’s
reminder to celebrate the journey of your life, please
forward it to four people. We can all do with a little more

2. The Summit Is Only the Excuse for Being Here

Yesterday I intended, once again, to climb Mt. Elbert, thus
finally reaching my goal of ten 14ers for the summer. My
friend Deborah and I left her house in sunshine, with
ominous clouds piling up behind us, and a weather report
that was grim in its prediction of high winds,
thunderstorms and snow.

By the time we reached the trailhead, it was clear the
summit was not to be. Despite being in the warmth of the
sunshine, black clouds were boiling around the
mountain, moving rapidly in our direction. It was clearly
not a day to go high.

It wasn’t snowing or raining yet, so we decided to walk a
bit: get a little exercise and fresh air, even if the summit
was not to be. We spent a couple of hours hiking around,
following whatever trail our hearts decreed, and in the
process, discovered the remnants of an old camp.

It was off the trail that led to the summit of Elbert and is
clearly not visited by many people. It was easy to convince
ourselves that we had stumbled upon some sort of secret
hideout used by a notorious someone back in the days of
the Wild West. Perhaps an outlaw had built it years ago,
maybe a hunter or a moonshiner. Like kids, we
laughingly speculated about the original inhabitants of
this out-of-the-way camp.

Still standing at the camp was a marvelous rock chimney,
15 feet high with three rusted metal doors: the lower for
stoking a fire, the upper two with racks for cooking.
Beautifully built, it stood in a clearing with a floor of pine
needles and faced a lovely beaver pond whose dam was
old enough to have grass growing on it.

We found old chinked logs that had formed a cabin in
some distant past and remnants of a red wool shirt, now
disintegrating to become part of the forest. There was
evidence of a sluice and indication that the stream that fed
the beaver ponds had at one point been diverted to flow
closer to the camp.

We sat for a while as snow blew sideways around us, and
the clouds spilled over the mountain top, drinking in the
magical beauty of this place where someone had lived in
the past and where few people visited now. We sat and
talked as two very close friends do: about life and
relationships, about joy and disappointment, about
accomplishments and failures.

We talked about how if we had been hell-bent on reaching
the top of Mt. Elbert, despite the ominous weather, we
never would have discovered this special place. We
would not have been as attuned to the wildness and
beauty and power of the fierce weather that was brewing
around us. We would have missed the laughter-fueled
crossing of the beaver dam and the marvelous
workmanship of the chimney oven. And we would have
been pummeled by the storm that was arriving.

It was the summit of Mt. Elbert that brought my friend
Deborah and me to that marvelous place. If we had only
been focused on the summit, we would have gone home
when the weather turned. And we would have missed
the wonders of discovering the mysterious camp and
walking across the beaver dam and watching the fierce
weather swirl around us and sharing it all with a close

The summit of Mt. Elbert was the excuse that brought us
to that magical place. Our awareness of all the wonders on
the journey to the summit made it an extraordinary day.

3. Coaching: Where Are You Losing Your “Here”?

Goals are wonderful and important things to have in our
lives. Yet we are often so focused on the goal — the
summit, the raise, the promotion, the presentation, the
quota — that we miss the small victories and successes,
joys and connections, wins and losses that happen along
the way.

When life is only about the goal — the end result, the
summit — even when we achieve it, the satisfaction is
fleeting. “That’s great, but now what?” We celebrate
briefly and then have to look for the next goal, the next
summit, the next achievement. There is little or no
satisfaction in the process of reaching the goal.

Life is what happens while we are focused on the goal.
What wonderful experiences are you missing in your life
because you are focused only on the end result?

4. The Origin

“The summit is only the excuse for being here.”

Gary Ball, Rob Hall’s guiding partner and great friend, said
this to me after my second Everest attempt had ended
without my standing on top of the mountain. Gary, too,
had not reached the summit. And he was a co-leader of
the expedition. He was “expected” to reach the summit.
He’d been there before.

We were having a conversation about the combination of
disappointment and joy we felt surrounding the whole
experience. We were both deeply disappointed that we
had not reached the top of the world. And we were also
both filled with joy and elation and gratitude at what we
had experienced on the mountain.

We shared stories of the climb: of crossing a ladder in the
Khumbu Icefall under a full moon; of looking down the
Western Cwm in the orange light of sunset; of attempting
to do crossword puzzles at 20,000 feet; of sharing a day of
climbing in bright sunshine with a close friend; of feeling
the spirit of the Universe in an astonishingly intimate

The disappointment of not reaching the summit did not
negate the wonders and joys and successes we had
experienced. The summit of Mt. Everest was the reason
we had gone on the expedition. We didn’t reach the
summit. Yet we had experienced so much in the process
of the attempt. The summit was the goal; the experience
was the point.

And so it is with all of life: the goals we set are only the
excuses for being right here, right now. The chances of
reaching them are greater when we enjoy the journey.
And it is the journey that matters in the long run.


There are some people who live in a dream world, and
there are some who face reality; and then there are those
who turn one into the other.
Douglas Everett

You’ve got to get to the stage in life where going for it
is more important than winning or losing.
Arthur Ashe

Don’t always follow the crowd because nobody goes there
Yogi Berra

Wherever you are, be there.

It’s important to have an end to journey towards, and it’s
the journey that matters in the end.
Ursula Leguin

6. Humor: Quotes From George W. Bush

“The best way to relieve families from time is to let them
keep some of their own money.”
Westminster, CA, 9/13/00

“They have miscalculated me as a leader.”

“I don’t think we need to be subliminable about the
differences between our views on prescription drugs.”
Orlando, FL 9/12/00

“This is what I’m good at. I like meeting people, my
fellow citizens. I like interfacing with them.”
Outside Pittsburgh, PA, 9/8/00

“That’s Washington. That’s the place where you find
people getting ready to jump out of the foxholes before the
first shot is fired.”
Westland, MI, 9/8/00

“Listen, Al Gore is a very tough opponent. He is the
incumbent. He represents the incumbency. And a
challenger is somebody who generally comes from the
pack and wins, if you’re going to win. And that’s where
I’m coming from.”
Detroit, MI, 9/7/00

“We’ll let our friends be the peace keepers, and the great
country called America will be the pacemakers.”
Houston, TX, 9/6/00

We don’t believe in planners and deciders making the
decision on behalf of Americans.”
Scranton, PA, 9/6/00

“I regret that a private comment I made to the
vice-presidential candidate made it through the public
Allentown, PA, 9/5/00

Give yourself the gift of Being Here this week.

Namaste, Margo

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My purpose in publishing Celebrating the Journey is to
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Copyright © 2000, all rights reserved, by Margo

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author of this article is Margo Chisholm. You may contact
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“At every moment of our life we have an
opportunity to choose joy.”
Henri J. M. Nouwen

Margo Chisholm
Coach, Speaker, Author, Therapist
Partnering you in having success,
freedom and joy in all areas of your life
970-704-9336 fax 970-704-9346


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