Saturday, August 20, 2011

It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey

I love the outdoors and being a part of nature. This entails long walks on the beach, feeding ducks at the pond and admiring the trees. Today however, I was forced out of my comfort zone and prepared myself for a hike up Lions Head, a well-known hiking trail in Cape Town. I initially wasn’t too keen because I am not much of a hiker. The thought of huffing and puffing and aching legs is never comforting is it? But I fought my demons and took those first steps. The hike wasn’t that strenuous for some, but I literally thought I was going to collapse (and most probably would have if we didn’t stop multiple times) I even shed a tear or two.

The path wasn’t always easy; there were long steps, steep gradients, ladders and tricky rocks to climb over. After some time of complaining and getting scratches all over, we finally made it to the top. I was so relieved. I could breathe again. The view that awaited me was incredible. This wonderful scenery that lay beneath me awakened every fibre in my body. Although I spent time admiring it, I also spent time worrying about how I was going to get back down.

I realised two things at this point. 1, somewhere between the long steps, steep gradients, ladders and rocks I had missed this very same view which was all around me. I was too busy complaining and focusing on getting to the top that I didn’t see it. And 2, the view that I looked down on was a city that I belonged to. 

So what does this actually mean in the grand scheme of things?

Firstly, life is always about challenges and it is always going to be about challenges. The way in which some of us deal with these challenges is similar to the way I chose to deal with Lions Head today. We huff and puff our way through life simply to conquer those challenges. Our sole purpose of living is survival and overcoming certain dilemmas we face. We believe that once these issues are dealt with we will be living in euphoria. Sadly, during this struggle, we never stop to admire the beauty around us. We become so caught up in our daily lives that we forget to appreciate the simple things that stare at us. We don’t realise that this state of euphoria that we so desperately seek is made up of different elements of happiness and these elements are all around us, just like the view from Lions Head. But that’s not it, when we think we have reached the top and conquered our fears a new problem arises, like “how I am going to climb down this mountain?” We don’t stop to take in the feeling of conquering something and enjoy the moment. This is when so many beautiful things in life pass us by.

Secondly, the view that I looked down upon from Lions Head was the city I belonged too. I had to climb up so high to see something so beautiful that was right in front of me. I just needed to look at it from a different angle. So too with life and our problems, sometimes the solutions we seek presents itself to us in various ways and formats. We don’t have to go so far to seek the truth or to seek happiness. The truth and happiness is all around us. Yes, it certainly helps seeing things from a different perspective but you don’t always have to search for the truth, solutions and happiness far away from home. The answers to all things usually lie within you.

We all do things for different reasons. I didn’t climb Lions Head to look at the view. There are plenty of places I could have driven to for that. I did it because I wanted to be challenged; I wanted to be yanked outside of my comfort zone. My boyfriend is my main source of inspiration of happiness. Because of his faith in me (and my fitness levels) I did something today which I never would have. I am sure I lost a good few calories but this new perspective on life gained from our hike was so worth it!

"There's always going be another mountain.
I'm always going to want make it move
Always going to be an uphill battle
Somebody's going to have to lose

It isn't about how fast I get there
It isn’t about what's waiting on the other side
It's the climb!”


  1. Well done Suhaifa! On the fitness point, I can honestly say that I really struggled up Lion's Head too - and 10 years following my initial torturous journey up there, I've never attempted it again! I wonder why. Heh, heh.

    My brother jogs up Lion's Head about 3 times a week - takes him around 15 minutes. Somehow I doubt he shares in our summiting pride!

  2. Well done! It def gets easier each time, and the view from the top always makes it worthwile!

    I can't wait until summer and the start of doing Lions Head every Tue morning!