A Proverb On Hope

There is a path to the top of even the highest mountain.

Regional Oral Tradition

It is a satisfying thing to summit a mountain. It is even more satisfying after a previous attempt to do so has failed. I had this experience while trying to climb a tall peak overlooking our city, named after an unknown magi from the distant past. Our first attempt up the nearer side of the mountain failed when we reached cliffs and vertical stone walls that barred us from going any further. We weren’t alone in not making the summit. Other foreigners had recently gotten stuck on the mountain side and had to be rescued by military helicopter. But rather than give up, we sought a different route. On our second attempt we came up the back side of the mountain, a route which took longer but provided mostly walkable slopes all the way to the rocky top. At the summit, we were richly rewarded by the stunning views, the cool breezes, and the taste of chocolate – which is somehow always richer on long hikes, so make sure you’ve got some in your pack. There had indeed been a path up the mountain, even though we had previously failed to find one.

This Central Asian proverb speaks to hope in spite of great obstacles. To me, this proverb sounds more American than Central Asian, since my passport culture tends toward the naively optimistic while Central Asian culture tends to be more fatalistic. Yet here it is, a proverb from the heart of Central Asia defying fatalism and offering hope that even the most daunting of obstacles might be overcome. This is a good proverb for those learning a new language. Or for those attempting to do something which feels impossible, like planting a church.

Photo by Jerry Zhang on Unsplash

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