If you walked past a stranger on the street, you mightn’t even look at them. But see them on the hiking trail and you’re instantly best buddies. The minimum you’d get when you pass someone on the trail is an encouraging smile. And if you ever saw someone in need of assistance, you’d instantly become a doctor.
Hiking trails connect us because we’re all having a shared experience. That person on their way down had to climb all the stuff you’re climbing right now. You know that, and they know that, and that’s why when you smile at each other it’s genuine.
On the hiking trail it’s undeniable that we’re having a shared experience, but in everyday life it’s a lot less obvious. Everyone looks like they’re on a completely different path. No one looks like they’re going through what you’re going through. No one looks like they’ve seen what you’ve seen. But they’re people just like you. They have obstacles just like you. And they’re searching for meaning in their lives, just like you.
Even though it’s hard to see, we’re all hiking the same mountain of life. We all stumble along the way, trying to move forward as best we can. The next time you walk past someone, don’t see them as a distant stranger, but as a fellow traveler. Give them an enthusiastic ‘hey!’, or a compliment, or just a smile.
For a journey as challenging as this, even the smallest things help.