Like climbing a Mountain

Life, a Dream?
. . . Life like a Dream
. . . . . .  A Dream Life
. . . . . . . . . . A Dream like Life
Dreaming Life?

An Indian fairytale tells about a maharajah whose dreams were so vivid, he could no longer distinguish between his real life, when he was awake and being a king, while when he was asleep, living the life of a poor beggar.

A famous Guru received news of the maharajah’s distress and decided to travel to the palace. The confused maharajah asked the Guru: “Master, I live two lives. I don’t know anymore where reality is?” The Guru answered succinctly: “Reality is where you feel.”

On my 50th Birthday

It was a significant night in my life, the night between two halves of a century of living; the first half I have survived with a sense of achievement, and the second half, most probably, I will not.

Strangely, I was not worried about this fact at all; on the contrary, the image of moving down a slope, going downhill, rather evoked the happiness of a child slipping down a slide on the playground.

I felt; from now on things will be easy. No pushing shit uphill any longer. Enough of that. Just … rowing the boat gently down the stream, when life is just a dream. Here you go.

During the following night, I had a dream.

A Dream

I saw a mountainous landscape and from a somewhere elevated place in the sky, I saw two snow-capped mountain ranges separated by a green valley, dotted with blue lakes and red and white clusters of houses; it could have been a bird’s eye view of the European Alps.

Zooming in I found myself standing on a gently inclining comfortable path on the mountainside, having a rest after a long walk. I looked down in the valley at my familiar village, surrounded by a patchwork of fields.

Behind the village, the ground rose again up to the opposite mountains. First as lush green meadows, leading up to a belt of spiky pine forest; and beyond, the dull grey-green area of the mountain tundra fading into the glistening grey of rocks and finally the gleaming white of snowfields with pointy peaks poking into the endless steel blue sky, decorated with some tiny clouds scattered about.

Live of People

I compared the mountain area, the valleys and peaks, with the life of people. One can often see other peoples’ lives, where their paths will lead them, especially those of the younger generations, but they won’t believe us. Too often our caring advice is rejected with annoyance.

Why is it so hard to see our own. Where are the courageous friends who would tell us? Would we believe them?


As a young man I spent much time in the mountains, and sometimes, a metaphoric contradiction irritated me. From a distance, I can see a mountain in its completeness but no details but when close enough to recognise particulars I lose sight of the overall picture.

I am saying, at no point everything is visible, providing enough information to make a factual assessment and decision, whether climbing this mountain, or path of life is within your abilities.

I learned to listen inside and if I found enough passion, I would go ahead and give it a good go, but also to realise when courage turns into foolishness. I would admit defeat and turn around, and sometimes, next day, maybe, I find another approach.

My Track

Back to the dream. Looking down along the slope of the mountain, I could just faintly recognise a track, a straight brown line between the green fields, leaving the village towards my mountain.

alpine_mountain_valley-1280x800 reshapedUnable to identify it, because I had not seen it from this position before, I deduced, it must be the track I had walked on at sunrise. Following it with my eyes, it disappeared behind the trees at the foot of the mountain.

As I said before, one cannot see much of the mountain one is climbing, but occasionally, I was able to see sections of the path I had travelled. Eventually, my attention was at the corner I just had come around only a few minutes ago.

I had a smile to myself. From my current vantage point, I could see only snippets of the track. I had forgotten most of the track’s details, but I knew, this was a continuous path because I had walked it.

A bit like Life

I cannot remember all the details of my life but for sure, I have lived it, all the fifty years, all the 18’250 days and every minute and second. Naturally, I slept during much of the time and memories were spaced apart and some forgotten, particularly those during adolescence.

However, I had been there, always; I have lived it. I also remember times in the past when I feared the future, times when I did not know, which road to take.

At this moment I was showered with confidence, it removed all burdens.  An intense feeling of peace flooded my senses, feelings, I would have liked to give to my younger self, to instil in him the trust in the future.

Warmth welled up and I embraced all the scared and fearful younger selves of mine, comforting them, telling them: all is well. One cannot tell them what the future will be like.

They would not believe it; it is beyond their capacity of imagination. Just a few minutes ago, coming around the corner I could not have imagined the beautiful mountain scene I saw now.

I looked into the distance with a blank mind. Then, gathering my senses, I felt re-energised and ready to continue my walk in the upward direction, when all of a sudden, I felt stalled in my motion.


I looked along the path as it proceeded and disappeared around the next corner. Oh dear! Should I worry about whether the path would continue beyond my field of sight?mountain path reshaped

I just had to giggle at myself. I skimmed with my eyes over the side of the mountain above me. Of course, I could not be able to see the path above me but I noticed several sections the reinforced edge of it. This was consoling. Standing there, I felt confidence resonating inside me, initiated by my recent experience and a thought occurred to me: “This, my path continues.”


From where I am now, I can look at the completed part with confidence. In a few minutes’ time, hours or days in the future, I can turn to the guy I am right now, look at the recently completed section and say: “All will be fine.”  Will this instil confidence in him?

How does the saying go?
Today is the tomorrow we worried about, yesterday.

No difference, the current situation just shifts into the future. Will I have the confidence through knowing this, at this point in time? I do! Will my future self have confidence? Yes! Hey, let’s move on with confidence.

Sure, I will never know what the path will be like, but let me reassure myself: all the mountains I have ever climbed had a path leading to the top and I got there and back home again, and without the slightest doubt, I will reach this top, too!


Suggesting a completing thought, I would like to return to the initial, a real view of my valley. Maybe, at that time it a time before this life.  I had a look at this valley and found this mountain and I liked it and chose it to be my mountain for this lifetime…


Wolfgang Köhler
28 June 1995

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