The sun shone brightly, the temperature was a perfect 70 degrees and the sky was a deep blue and clear as I huffed and puffed my way up a steep incline as my oldest son ran up the mountain in front of me. We had just begun our hike up the mountains of Griffith Park.

Although I am not in the best shape my body ached to go on this hike. I wanted to be with nature, push my muscles and stretch my mind. It was a hike for mind, body and spirit. There was no way I was going to let my age or what I felt was my lack of ability keep me from reaching the top of our mountain.

Each steep incline was met with an outstanding view of the city of Los Angeles below, and a little plateau of relief from hiking. I focused on achieving each plateau and took each incline at my own pace but never quitting.

On the first incline there were many people and complaints. “I didn’t realize this was so steep. I am about to give up now. Is there a way to drive to the top?” Many people were ready to throw in the towel right at the start – stay where they felt comfortable and not challenged.

A good number or more dropped out at the second incline. “Oh no, not another one. Why couldn’t they make this more level?” Each incline thinned out the crowd more and more. Many people were happy to stop where they were and not go further. However, I pushed on.

Why did my son and I push on when so many others wanted to stop? For me, it was because I could look up at the top and see the very blue sky, the birds playing in the air, and experience the feeling of freedom and accomplishment. I knew I would not be happy if I settled. I wanted to be at the top and see the beauty.

So I told my 16-year-old and very fit son that I did not want to hold him back however I was going to make it to the to the top of the mountain no matter how long it would take me. Being the amazing young man that he is becoming he said, “Don’t worry, Mom, you won’t hold me back. This is great.”

So we hiked, talked about life, nature and goal-setting and we conquered every incline. Each level brought increased beauty and wildlife.

What I found truly interesting is that the higher we hiked the fewer people there were and how friendly everyone became. Some of us became lost and helped each other or commiserated because we were also lost. Each time we met up with someone they would say “hi” or “how’s it going?” It was like we had joined a club. We all wanted the same goal, for different reasons, but this was enough to form unity amongst us. Everyone was supportive. This was a big change from the crowd at the beginning, when so many complained and whined or were just simply self-involved and all willing to settle.

My son and I were trying to make it to the famous Hollywood sign; however, we ended up hiking higher on another mountain, joining others who also found themselves on our mountain. To me it didn’t matter. In fact, I was happy because it was higher up, where I could hear the birds play and fly directly over us and the city and lower mountain were at their most beautiful. Most of all I felt I had achieved what I had set out to do – reach the top!

When my son and I were heading back to the car we heard a woman say, “I am about to call it quits right now.” She was still in the area surrounding the parking lot. This reminded me of a story from Vernon Howard, about the mountain of life. He was an American spiritual teacher, author, and philosopher. So many times great numbers of people start out on their purpose in life. Quickly the complaints, the sudden reasons why it cannot happen, start to appear as doubt, fear and worry enter their minds. These are the great number of people who stop at the start. With every challenge or little obstacle more people will say, “This is not meant to be.” Or they feel they can’t see the top of the mountain or the opportunities or even where they want to be. They feel that this is as far as they can go. So they stop. However, as soon as they stop or quit they become dissatisfied because they never accomplished their purpose.

But for those who see the blue sky and feel the possibility of living their dream freely and ultimately with no limitations, there is just an incredible feeling of “I did it!” and they keep going — climbing each incline, constantly learning, growing and allowing the achievement of each incline conquered to propel them to the next.

And just like hiking higher on the mountain, as we get closer to achieving our purpose we meet others doing the exact same thing. Everyone is nicer and feels the unity. We help and encourage each other. The journey becomes more fun because of the possibility of achievement – reaching the top of the mountain becomes more of a reality. A feeling of new strength enters your body to make that last big leap to the top.

When the goal is reached and we are at the top of the mountain the feeling is unbelievable. It is a feeling of “YES! I did it.” There is freedom and everything feels possible and there is a satisfaction of achievement. At that moment the sky is the bluest, the view is the most beautiful and time suddenly stands still. It is incredible.

All of this awaits those who have the vision, the persistence, and are not willing to settle for anything less. All of this awaits us at the top of our mountain.