The young Shifu wanted to test the fortitude of the newcomers. Friday’s mountain hike surpassed the previous week’s efforts in both intensity and duration with the student’s arriving back at the academy some two hours later than usual.
Walking up the mountain, the conventional route involved hundreds of stairs. Although challenging, the path offered brief plateaus and therefore periods of respite from the incline. Today, however, wasn’t a conventional day.
The Shifu began to lead the student’s up the road the buses take to the mountaintop. A seasoned student groaned as she realised what was happening. The gradient was far more acute than the steps ranging from steep to steeper.
As they trudged up the mountain, grunts and whimpers became more common. There appeared to be no end in sight. Throughout, Andrew asked himself one simple question, “Am I capable of taking one more step?”
The answer was always “yes”. One more step wouldn’t break him.
With this thought coursing through his mind, although ‘sweating like a bush pig’, as his Dad would say, he made it to the top without a break. As the hike continued across and back down the mountain and finally to its conclusion he realised the underrated value of a strong mind. Arguably he felt stronger and more capable at the end of the walk than the start. Like a diesel engine, he could have kept chugging along.
As the famous Chinese general Sun Tzu said, “If the mind is willing, the flesh could go on and on without many things”.