By Randy Pierce
What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.”
Henry David Thoreau
I completed an epic 37-month quest with my final step off the Liberty Spring Trail. Originally, this dream to summit all 48 of the mountains in NH which rise over 4,000 feet was simply a choice to celebrate my return to being able to walk and the joy of sharing life with my wife Tracy and my incredible Guide Dog Quinn. It blossomed into something far more than all our expectations.
We chose to share the goal and process through the charity we founded, 2020 Vision Quest, mainly because we thought that an ever-growing belief that spreading the idea of “Ability Awareness” might enhance and transform the lives of others. I did not understand the full measure by which it would transform and enrich my own life.
One of my first lessons was how very many paths and approaches would lead me to failure. The physical aspects of this challenge for each totally blind step was obvious and has been reasonably well discussed throughout our journey. The need to grow and learn from each experience was essential. A community of support had to choose to invest their own efforts into this process for me to reasonably succeed. “Believe and Achieve” is absolutely a fantastic mantra but one should not forget how much physical, mental, and emotional effort is likely required as well. The very endurance nature of this experience over years of life scheduling requirements is enough to challenge success, as commitment and perseverance must be continually reinforced.
Anyone who has not seen the interaction between Quinn and myself on a treacherous mountain trail may never fully understand how absolutely incredible that bond is and how its potential can progress. Similarly, there are many human guides who forego the experiences which might normally bring them to the wilderness so they may put their focus 3-5 feet in front of their own feet and transform their personal experience to one tending my safety and ability to navigate this terrain. It is a sacrifice and a gift which has many powerful rewards for the giver and myself as we build life altering bonds of our own in the process.
While no blind person had ever managed to summit all these peaks before this quest and while I’m absolutely proud of myself and those who provided the instrumental support to help this goal be achieved, the real meaning of the quest is yet to come: how we all use the experiences to demonstrate what each of us as individuals might achieve despite the various adversity we are certain to all face throughout our lives. It highlights how much greater a positive community interaction can help us all rise to individual and group peaks of realized potential.
I will forever be changed by this quest and I am sure I will be sharing the experiences for many years to come. For now, I wish to share this one thought and hope for all of you. This quest isn’t about hiking, mountains, nor even the accomplishment for which I am so very proud. This is about the choice each and every one of us could and should make personally to reach out for our own “peak potentials.”
I wish for all of you the rewards which will come from finding something in your life deserving of your appreciation and passion. Seek the ways to achieve that with all the effort it deserves. Do not limit how high a goal you may choose to set. Be aware of how to build higher and higher steps towards this goal. The reward is in the journey more than the destination and yet the destination is yours to reach. I’ve touched the sky too many times through this journey to not realize the fundamental truth in that. Better still, I’ve been touched by the inspiring stories of many who helped me reach the sky either directly or through the examples they have set in their own pursuits.
“Believe and Achieve”… and then savor the rewards you will deservedly earn!