Have you ever had one of those moments when against all odds, you defiantly trudged forth to victory?
This morning a situation came up, and I blurted out these mythological words, “Ain’t No Fat Boy’s Gonna Tell Me I Can’t Climb This Mountain!!” Thankfully, no one was around; thankfully, I wasn’t on a mountain, and most importantly, I was the only fat boy in ear shot.
It’s funny how life’s little events can become mythological, and as we are all readying our lives for the celebration of Christmas, I thought I’d share the origin of this defiantly optimistic proclamation (originally shared by Doug at my dad’s memorial service last year).
In the late 90s, my dad, brother Jeremy, brother-in-law Andy, and me all decided to hike up to Mt LeConte right after Christmas. As the poorly trained hikers we were, we departed for the hike in late afternoon on a snowy December day. We finally reached the trail around four p.m.
Most people appeared to be coming back from the trail as we headed out and up. At first the path seemed fine, but soon we were walking (and slipping) on ice. Daylight was slipping away alongside us. Soon the dark shadow of night was fast approaching.
The trail shifted from a smooth passage over tree roots and rock to a steep climb along the side of the mountain. In my typical less than courageous mindset, I was ready to head back to Gatlinburg and enjoy a good meal! But we pressed on.
Soon a heavy set guy passed us heading down the trail. He stopped and said, “You really shouldn’t go any farther. It’s too steep, too icy and getting too dark.” After he passed out of sight, my dad replied, “Ain’t no fat boy’s gonna tell me I can’t climb the mountain!”
That one statement captures the energy and fire in my dad’s belly. If you tell him he can’t do it, can’t win, can’t make, he’s sure to give everything to prove you wrong. Thus we trudged upward and onward. I was convinced we’d die on the side of the mountain. But to my amazement, my dad’s drive pressed us all forward, and we made to the top and spent the night up there in a three sided-cabin.
Over the last several years, my dad’s quote became part of the family lore. Even now when facing a hard struggle, one of us will say, “Ain’t no fat boy gonna tell me I can’t climb the mountain!” That one moment (which was so exhausting and overwhelming at the time) has come to be one of the fond memories of time spent with my dad.
In my memory, the air was colder, the hills were steeper, the night was darker, and most importantly Doug’s complaining was louder than any other experience in my life. But, we made it. So, no matter your “mountain” this holiday season, remember: the fat boy may have been right, but that’s no story worth telling your kids.