Every so often, it seems like it is a good thing to make a solid and truthful assessment of your life. Where ya goin’, howr’ ya doin’? Things going well, not so well? Happy? Content? Fulfilled?

It seems like it is a good thing, but I am not sure if it really is.

I have been through plenty of Assessment Cycles. I have come to believe that these are actually Head-Up-Your-Own-Ass-Ment Cycles. There is no checklist of qualities or achievements that has any real meaning or permanence. Life is ever-changing, fluid, mercurial, and infinitely open to the daily variations of feeling, want, perception, and influence. There is no black-and-white, yes or no. All shades of gray. I have fewer answers, as well as fewer questions. It is said the older you get, the less you know, and I think it is true, and not a bad thing. Just a thing. Just an is.

We expect and want life to be this steady uphill journey, where you may struggle but you are still always improving, being better in some way than before, to be King of the Hill at the End of the Day. It just really cannot be like that. You are set out at the beginning at the bottom of the nasty rugged imposing mountain with no tools, no clues. You gather what you can along the way, you might have some company or help here and there, but it’s a solo jaunt for sure. You have zero experience in mountain climbing so instead of this clean sure-footed trek, it’s a tragi-comedy of falling rocks, spectacular pratfalls, useless detours, sudden elevations, blizzards, unexpected sunshine, stunningly-pretty wildflowers, ill-tempered mountain goats, missed footing, ponderous exhaustion, stubborn balking, boundless energy, dehydration, and dizziness. Halfway up, your backpack filled with tools tumbles down the mountain and you don’t even have a can opener to open the crappy, overly-sweet baked beans you have to eat to live. You bash open the bean can with a rock, and cut yourself on the can, and scream, ‘OH SHIT!!!” and it echoes down the mountain, causing an avalanche and the death of several eagles.

You get to the point, long long after you started climbing, where you can just see the top of the mountain. It’s not that far to go, and that is both rewarding and terrifying, in your beat-up, well-muscled, dirty, and self-reflective state. Your backpack is lighter than you think it should be, which is a disappointment and blessing. If you had everything you needed, you wouldn’t have room to pack another tool you might find along the way that might be the most helpful of all.

Assessment isn’t going to do much for you, other than cause you a few moments’ grief or satisfaction. Something will change in some way, and all the goal-setting, planning, smugness, or wallowing will be replaced by simply doing something. Doing is greater than thinking about doing, or thinking about what’s been done. History will repeat itself over and over again, even though lessons have been learned, and whether you like it or not. It’s part of the deal.

Get some new climbing shoes and keep moving. Up, down, sideways, circular, whatever. Just keep going.