Imagine scaling your way up a mountain giant. Not a giant who lives in the mountains, but a giant made from the mountains itself. Imagine its skin made of tough, craggy rocks covered with layered patches of packed dirt while its hairs are made of trees. Imagine this mountain giant clustered with its brothers and sisters—forming valleys, steep ascensions, and sheer cliffs. Content with where they are, these mountain giants have not moved for hundreds of years.
Now, imagine yourself as a mountain giant. Imagine little people climbing all over your body, weaving their way through your trees and clambering out of whatever crevices they fall into. As a mountain giant, you would think that they would mind being climbed upon. But funnily enough, they don’t. In fact, they enjoy it because the little people would constantly compliment them on how beautiful they are—despite their numerous complaints about the rocky terrain.
One day at dawn, I was one of the little people trying to climb one of these giants in Yosemite Valley.
The trail greeted me with a sharp, winding, stone staircase that served as the first few steps of ascending this giant. The steps then gave away to patted dirt on foundations of solid rock along with scattered pebbles, stones, and boulders. Trees of various shapes and sizes surrounded me; some were the size of an ordinary tree you would see planted along the streets while some stretched wide enough to require a group of 1 to 3 people to hug the whole circumference of it.
As I made my way up the mountain, certain sections of the trail turned into tiny, slippery rocks that forced you to do some serious stretching, hauling, and foot-checking to make sure that each step was the right step.
On these stairs, I began to regret the decision of bringing everything with me. It felt as if the giant himself crammed more rocks into my backpack. Of course, when hiking, it’s best to be prepared for everything. You can slip, fall, and possibly crack your skull open. Or you can become starved and dehydrated. However, you can’t let the fear of getting hurt hold you back. Fear keeps us strong and sharp; but it also has the power to rule us if we let it. Then again, you should also think twice about the number of bananas and granola bars you pack because they might be the cause of your downfall, literally.
After two and a half hours of trekking the treacherous trails, I began my last ascent to a path that gently curved to the right and led the way to Columbia Rock.
Suddenly, I was standing atop the mountain giant’s shoulders. Suddenly, for one fleeting moment, I shared his perspective. From his shoulders, from his eyes, I saw the valley filled with trees upon trees and green upon varying shades of green spread before me. I saw my brother ahead—a gargantuan, half-split dome of rock named Half Dome—looming over the valley below. And in the valley below, by squinting closely, I saw the people milling around the village of Yosemite and noticed that they were no more than specks as a period on this page is no more than a dot.
It was then that I realized how little I was compared to this giant. It was then I realized how little we were compared to the world.
However, it was also then that I realized that though we seem like specks compared to the universe, we have accomplished amazing feats of power and are able to do so much more than that we already have. We’ve sailed the uncharted and discovered distant lands; we’ve flown in the skies, among the birds; we’ve scaled mountains and volcanoes; we’ve even traveled to the moon.
We are often told that together, and as individuals, we have the power to change the world. In that moment, balancing myself on the giant’s shoulders, I began to truly believe that we have the power to change the world.
We are anything and everything but insignificant, little specks.