Five lessons the mountains can teach us

Since our first days, Lees-McRae has lived by the motto “In the Mountains, Of the Mountains, For the Mountains.” One way we embody that maxim is the annual celebration of Mountain Day, a tradition that goes back to the days of college founder, Rev. Edgar Tufts. Each year, Tufts would surprise the entire campus by canceling class and lead the community on a five-mile hike up Beech Mountain. Though Mountain Day looks different nowadays, the sentiment remains the same—a day to honor the mountains with fellow students, faculty, and staff, and in recent years, give back to the High Country community.

This year we aren’t able to observe Mountain Day in the usual fashion, but the mountains have a lot they can teach us just the same. No matter where you are right now, here are five lessons, or reminders, from the mountains that you can use in your daily life.


Lesson No. 1: Practice patience

Did you know that the Blue Ridge Mountains are the second-oldest mountain range in the entire world? At over 1 billion years in age, it has taken quite a long time to create the magnificent and breathtaking mountains that we know and love today. But patience isn’t something we are all inherently well-skilled in—and that is where practice comes in. You can practice patience in small ways throughout your day, and in the long run you may find that incredible things can happen.


Lesson No. 2: Consistency is key

Much like patience, being consistent is what will most often lead us to ultimate success. Over the years it took for our mountain home to form, it was consistent, ongoing (and sometimes barely noticeable) growth over time that really left its mark. The Blue Ridge Mountains were not made overnight, so don’t put unfair expectations on yourself to accomplish large goals overnight either. It’ll take time, but it will be so worth it!


Lesson No. 3: It’s OK to slow down or take a break

While practicing patience and doing so consistently are important lessons, here is another that is all-too-often forgotten: taking a break. Whether we are talking about the mountains themselves, or a hiker taking on some of the tallest peaks in the Southeast, slowing down or taking a break entirely is vital to our overall success. A break, a rest, a moment—no matter what you call it, slowing down when we need to or when you anticipate it will help your overall productivity, physical and mental health, and leave you feeling recharged.


Lesson No. 4: Enjoy the small things

With massive mountains as our backdrop, it can be easy to look past the small things along the way. The mountains teach us that while misty, blue ridgelines may be awe-inspiring, it is the sum of their parts that makes them as magnificent as they are—endless trails, waterfalls, rushing streams, wildlife, flowers, and majestic trees. You can find the small things in everything you do, even if you’re not in the mountains. Make yourself aware of the beauty in your own backyard, local park, or right outside your window. You can even practice this mindfulness technique in your living room—what small, simple things bring you joy? Perhaps a cozy blanket, a warm candle, a cuddly pet, or just the presence of a loved one.


Lesson No. 5: Not everything is in your control

Mother Nature has a way of doing things on her own terms, and the evolution of the mountains is certainly no exception. Living in the High Country, you know that the weather can seem to have a mind of its own, changing from one moment to the next. One day may be warm and sunny and the following may be cold and snowy—that’s just mountain life! Weather is by far one of those things that we cannot control, yet in all of its seasons, there is beauty. During this time of uncertainty, identify the things that are in your control and those that are not—and for those that you can’t control, work to put those things to the side.


By Nina MastandreaApril 15, 2020
Campus LifeCommunity