Today, I climbed Stone Mountain, which is a local landmark in Atlanta, Georgia with my children and some friends. As we climbed (okay- struggled a little), I asked a woman who was headed down the mountain how much farther we had to the top. She stopped, shook her head, sighed, and said, "Lady, you gotta a long ways to go." My eyes widened (I had been sure we were very close), and I felt a little disheartened because I was tired and thirsty.
Five more parched minutes passed by when a man in a bright yellow t-shirt and a big smile whipped around the corner smiling. I decided to ask him the same question about how much farther we had to go. (I guess at this point I was not much unlike a child bending forward from the back seat of a car pleading, "How much looonger?") The man shrugged good-naturedly and said, "Not long at all. 15 minutes tops. Totally worth the view. You got this!" I smiled and kept walking up those smooth stones, mouth still dry but spirit having increased vigor.
Funny, how attitude changes the dynamic of an experience and then has a direct effect on others; there is so much power in that. I considered this as I walked back down the mountain myself. You see, people asked me how much farther, also. And, I knew to encourage them and recognized how easy it was for me to do this because I am a teacher. I am an encourager. That is a mighty big part of what I do.
I mean, sure, the lady was right, it was a long way up, but so was the happy guy. It is the same distance- whether you smile or you cry- whether you make the best of the situation or you complain: the trees are the same, so are the sky and the stones and all the people around you. In fact, the only thing you do have power over is your attitude.