Volume 95, Issue 97

Tuesday, April 9, 2002
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Fighting to sway opinions

U8, you're great

Pray for peace in the Middle East

Useless drivel?

Recombobulator: the finale

Opinions: the year in review

What I've learned...

The mountains and the valleys

Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah...

The mountains and the valleys

Probably Not
Matt Pearson
Deputy Editor

"The greatness comes not when things go always good for you. The greatness comes when you're really tested, when you take some knocks, some disappointments, when sadness comes. Because only if you have been in the deepest valley can you ever know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain."

Former American president Richard Nixon said that.

My close friend and colleague Aaron Wherry has always found my fondness for Nixon peculiar. For starters, Nixon was a Republican and a crook and those were probably the least of his crimes.

But Nixon was also a tenacious fighter, a survivor, a man who knew all-too-well the difference between a mountain and a valley. And it's for that reason that I have always found him intriguing.

Nixon's words about mountains and valleys echo in my mind each time I find myself in between the end of one chapter and the beginning of another, not quite ready to move forward, but not willing to step back either. His words speak to what I think is slowly becoming a theme in my life – that of climbing, ever reaching for the top.

But while reaching the elusive peak is indescribable, I have learned the lesson is in the climb.

What begins with great enthusiasm and a willingness to learn more about yourself at each step along the way quickly becomes a life-altering journey that leaves you unable to recognize your former self. Learning to accept your weaknesses, learning not to measure yourself against the merits of another, learning to face your own self-doubt are crucial.

Just as valuable are the times you stumble and fall, the times you feel suffocated by someone else's definition of you. We can only accept ourselves when we peel back our exteriors and uncover the vulnerability that lies at the core.

Yet through it all, you keep moving forward, knowing a journey half-completed is no journey at all. You share yourself with others, knowing that, at some point, you will have to go it alone.

As I climb, I find myself always looking ahead, planning the next day even before the present day ends.

And when I finally reach the top, I take in the view and get a sense of where I've come from – and I realize at that point just how far away this arduous journey began. But, as I prepare to celebrate, I see in the distance another mountain, another peak waiting for me, another climb waiting to begin.

I arrive at the base of the next mountain, dig in for the long haul and start climbing. Even if I can't see the peak through the fog, even if I don't know where I'm headed, I just start climbing.

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Copyright The Gazette 2002