Summits and Plural Pronouns

They had always told me that achieving the peak was impossible. I remember that specific quip, the little phrase they tossed around like an indisputable axiom: One mountain will always be higher than another.

We all implicitly understood this was a form of protection, to ensure that I would not be disappointed by failure, or by mediocrity. It was a testament to their love for me, that they sought to shield me, harbor me, from this of all anguishes.

They knew (and know) that they have done their duty. There is nothing else to do but wait—and watch. There is nothing else to say but the best of wishes—and that I cannot turn to them for reproach, for failing to warn me. But they also knew, as they still know now, that I would attempt to ignore their warnings, and that I would fight to attain the pinnacle of my mountain.

The root, here, lies in what exactly my mountain is, and in what scale it is measured. Do I measure myself by the heights of others, to set myself up for inevitable disappointment? I can never reach the shoulders of giants, though I might stretch my mind to stretch my bones. I can only reach for my personal potential and hope—with that blind hope which strivers and yearners uphold—that I will achieve it.

Yes, it may seem irrational now for me to relinquish my eyes, when I might enjoy watching others I pass. But when I reach my own peak, those selfsame eyes will incite in me envy, and despair, upon sight of the summits still above me. So the course I’m taking—my only possible course—will be a blind course. I will climb unaided by sight, but that only allows me to relish in the sensation of each footfall, of each wheezy, well-deserved breath.

Just because a mountain is not the tallest does not mean it is any less tall.

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