May Your Journey Be Hard, May the Wind Be Always in Your Face

(Written upon reflecting on my miserable attempts at starting a business).

To my wife and children:

When I was in Junior High School in Kent, Washington, I performed  a barbershop quartet song. It was a beautiful, old Irish farewell, and it went like this:

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
May the rain fall soft upon your fields,
And until we meet again,
May He hold you in His Hand.
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

When we sang it for the rest of the choir, I saw tears in people's eyes. The song has a lovely and kind sentiment.

But it is not the poem of the Hero.

It is not what I wish for you or me. I wish for you and me that life will be tough and hardscrabble. I wish for you and me that our fingers will bleed from scratching out an existence, and that tears of either sadness or the joy of deliverance will stain our cheeks.

I have learned from my years of rock climbing and mountaineering that such difficulty is what makes life tolerable. Ask me to walk up a hill, and I'll ignore you. Ask me to climb a mountain, and I'll start shoving gear into my backpack.

What need do we have of being held in the palm of God's hand if life is easy? The life that is forced to depend on God is the blessed life.

The blessed life is full of uncertainty and yearning. Its paths are full of lost travelers seeking the promised land. It requires that we bind ourselves close to God and seek His guidance. It requires the faith that the answers to future problems will come in the future, but that we should start the journey today.

The blessed life requires the learning of this lesson:

"You must learn to walk to the edge of the light, and then a few steps into the darkness; then the light will appear and show the way before you." (President Harold B. Lee)

“What is a journey? A journey is not a trip. It’s not a vacation. It’s a process. A discovery. It’s a process of self-discovery. A journey brings us face to face with ourselves. A journey shows us not only the world, but how we fit in it. Does the person create the journey or does the journey create the person? The journey is life itself. Where will life take you?” (Louis Vuitton commercial)

Should I have held the opinion that my journey to realize my mission on Earth was easy, or even doable by me alone? I feel that, for me, the journey has to be impossible to accomplish on my own. Otherwise I wouldn't find it appealing enough. There is something about me that yearns for an epic adventure.

Without the journey being impossibly hard, without it requiring the utmost of sacrifices, without it requiring everything that I can give, and, especially, without it requiring God's serious intervention, I don't think it would hold my spiritual interest. Without the experience being gut-wrenching and painful, I wouldn't be transformed into a substantial person--a champion--a hero. Without it requiring all of my faith in God and myself, despite being encompassed about by the blackness of despair, I wouldn't learn to become God's partner and his instrument. There would be nothing awe-inspiring about my life. There would be nothing praiseworthy. There would be no glory, and my life would seem to be more like a slow death. A waiting.

I know that there are amazing capabilities within me that can only be brought out through the classic Hero's journey. I think I've always known that. That's why I expect so much of myself. I see a sliver--a mere glimpse--of what I am capable of, and I feel my life would be wasted if I did not bring it about.

I remember one of my dearest lessons learned from rock climbing: It takes courage just to dream. Many people lack the courage to simply dream and see themselves accomplishing great things. Sometimes I am one of them, but in the quiet, reflective moments of my life, I realize I do have the courage to dream. Like a sprinter crouched at his starting block, I am always leaning in that direction. I dream courageously.