The sound of crickets chirping filtered in through my window as my watch started to buzz. I turned off the alarm and sat up in my bunk. It was 3:30 in the morning and time to rise. I wasn’t sure at that point which was more crazy, waking up willingly at 3:30 or being excited to do so. My hiking buddies and I had decided the night before that setting out to summit the mountain nearby as the sun peaked over the horizon was a much better choice than to wait until later when the storms blew in over tree line. The early morning darkness engulfed my cabin as my cabin mates and fellow counselors remained asleep. I had slept in my hiking clothing for this purpose-so I wouldn’t wake them upon getting up this early. It was an early start, but the feeling of excitement and adventure I still remember clearly.
Looking back, so many of my Saturdays mirrored this feeling of excitement for the summers I worked as a camp counselor in the mountains. Each weekend, after the campers had left, we would go on some sort of hike which often had us waking up early to summit a new peak. We knew the only way to hike the mountains that surrounded us was to get up before the rain brought in the afternoon storms. Although it was a tough wake up call, I still remember the feeling of triumph as we made it to the top in time to watch the sunrise.
The act of being able to summit a mountain always brings about a sense of accomplishment. You work hard to hike up the steep embankments, often jumping over obstacles in your path, until you reach the top, where you find stunning views and the ability to see for miles. Standing there makes you realize how big the world is and how small your problems really are. It’s a feeling of awe and freedom. A moment when you realize how big the world really is.
The summers I spent as a camp counselor were some of my favorites. They were the times I realized just how big of a difference I could make in others lives and just how much I could appreciate the world around me, as well as embrace each new experience.
In high school I came up with my motto, “I want to live life to its fullest.” To this day I still love that phrase as I’ve learned the importance of embracing every moment. Whether that be saying yes to climb a mountain or going exploring or trying something new, living life to its fullest has come to mean saying yes to waking up at 3:3o in order to have a new positive experience in life. It’s about taking advantage of the things you never thought you would experience.
Years from now you will probably want to look back and say yes. Yes I embraced who I was. Yes I took risks and tried something new. Yes I was goofy and silly and yes I cared about the people around me and appreciated the time spent with them. Embracing life to me means putting first the things that will bring you happiness.
Your form of embracing life may not be saying yes to a 3:30 start, but it could be a world of yes to so many other things.
My wish for you is to embrace life and discover what you are passionate about! Wrap yourself in a wealth of experiences which enrich your life, whether those are big or small. It will definitely be worth it in the end.
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