Excerpt from Chapter 5: Pleasure

Sitting on Top of the World — June 2009

I had a (pardon the pun) "peak" experience last week when I hiked all the way to the top of Angels Landing, a mountain in Zion National Park. I had done some hiking in the past—but nothing prepared me for the spectacular nature of really hiking: 5 miles round trip, climbing 1500 ft. (from an altitude of 4200 to 5700 ft).

The trip itself was quite a challenge, but I never considered turning back—even though many people do. There's something about looking up at the top that just "calls you" to keep going. And it was well worth the trip. It truly felt like we were sitting on top of the world.

However, it was not just the great feeling of reaching the top and seeing the rest of the world so far below. It was also the pure pleasure (and excitement) of the trip itself. Much of the first sections of the hike involved switchbacks, cutting back and forth. But the last portion involved climbing almost straight up—with chains set in the mountain to hold onto in order to facilitate some of the more extreme sections near the top.

I must admit there was a sense of pride in having done this hike, mostly because we got so many comments from younger people who could hardly believe a couple of 73-year-olds were making this climb. But far more important than what I or anyone else "thought" was the sheer way it made me "feel"—so alive!

One of the things that's missing for many people in today's world is the sense of vitality that comes from physical exertion. Of course, those who have physically challenging jobs may not find much satisfaction in the full-time exertion that the job entails. But for the masses who sit all or most of the day, there's nothing quite like vigorously moving your body—especially outside instead of in a gym.

I'm not knocking the gym experience if that's all you can manage. In fact, I belong to a gym as well. But while exercising in the gym may benefit your body, it can't match the benefit to your emotions and your spirit that comes with exercising outdoors.

So I encourage you to find ways to spend more time outdoors in nature—especially engaging in active physical exercise of some sort. It's not necessary to climb a mountain or even do anything too strenuous. In fact, walking is one of the best (and safest) exercises around—and one that almost everyone can do. Being outside helps clear your head of the clutter from constant exposure to technology, so it's not only good for your body, but also for your mind. Note: The photo on the cover of this book was taken at the top of Angels Landing.

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