Today I went for a walk, down by the beach. Not too far from where I live, there are beautiful white cliffs along the shoreline of one of the many beaches. I had seen them once, from far away, and this place looked absolutely spectacular, but today I was determined to get right up close.
I made my way through the public pathways, and down to the main beach area. It's Easter Holidays here and the weather was a lovely 15 degrees, so there were people scattered all across the small beach. From a distance, I could see that the part of the beach with the cliffs had rocks all along the bottom. I noticed that very few people were actually around the cliff area and decided to go ahead and take the rocky walk.
Slowly and carefully, I walked along the rocks. It didn't take too much time to discover which rocks had good grip and which ones were more likely to send me flying onto my butt. Making it around the first cliff, I continued to follow the rocky bottom which led to the discovery of even more cliffs, that I had no idea even existed. Cautiously, I continued on, keeping one eye on the tide, with no idea of when it would come back in. I really wasn't in the mood to be walking through water or swimming back, if it rose too quickly.
My goal was to walk around the beachy bottom of the cliffs and to eventually make my way around and eventually to the top, so that I could look out over the English channel. Unfortunately for me, after quite a bit of walking, I noticed that the water had risen too high up beside the next cliff and that I'd have to pass through the water to get around it...which was not at all in line with my idea of a good time.
It was at that point that I decided to turn around, walk back, and see if I could muster enough energy to take the main path to the top of the cliffs. This was all good until I casually began to wonder how much less time and energy it would take to climb up these high cliffs from the beach.
Taking a solid glance around, I quickly observed that almost all of the cliffs consisted of stone or clay. As much as I enjoy bouldering at a climbing centre, free-climbing was not going to be an option. Slowly, I continued to walk around the bottom, imagining the view from the top, until my eyes fell upon a part of the cliff that was covered in grass and plants, and wasn't very steep.
"This can't be much more challenging or complicated than some of the hills I've climbed in Scotland," I thought to myself. Looking around, I saw people sitting on the beach, and wondered what they would be thinking, as they watched me begin my ascend.
The first part of the climb was easy. Very grassy, very flat, with the only concern of navigating myself away from the areas of dead bushes. Soon enough, things started to get a little more challenging. Not only were there more and more bushes, many of them were actually intertwined with thorns. The moment I stepped into some of these bushes, I could feel the pain of the prickles and the dreaded feeling of being stuck. The thorns dig right through clothes, piercing the skin, holding you there. In order to get out, you needed to move, which forced the the thorns to dig deeper into the skin, in order to get free.
Yes, it hurt, but I really wanted to get to the top of this cliff. The path I was on suddenly stopped and I was forced to walk across a large pile of dead bushes and prickles if I wanted to proceed. Thinking that this would be the last thorny struggle, I decided to keep on trekking. Soon enough, I made it to another portion, completely covered up with dead trees and bushes, and of course, even more prickle and thorn bushes. Just my luck!
I started thinking more deeply about this, as I tried to avoid as much pain as possible, walking back. I began to wonder how this applies to a greater picture of our lives. How does trying to take the quick and easy route often end up for us? Is it sometimes worth putting in that extra time and effort to do it the right way, in order to avoid some of the setbacks and unnecessary scratches along the way?
To be honest, I never made it to the top of those cliffs. If I had only skipped trying to be lazy and take the "shortcut," I wonder if I would have had the time and energy to get there. Looking at my ankles, all scratched and cut up from the thorns, it's a reminder that sometimes we have to work extra hard for the things that we want. When we do put in the effort to achieving our goals, sometimes it makes that final reward so much sweeter. Just some food for thought.