There once was a chieftain of a great tribe who lived in a green valley surrounded by tall mountains…
The chieftain had many people he was responsible for and he was helped in his tasks by tribe members whom he gave names to like “Supervisor” and “Manager”.
One day the chieftain went to one of his young helpers, the one he called “Supervisor” and said, “Come with me, I have a task I need you to do.”
They walked a short ways across the valley floor to the foot of the closest mountain.
The chieftain said, “Look up at this mountain. It is tall but I would like you to climb it.” The chieftain waved at the ground at their feet. “You see here I have assembled all the tools and equipment you will need. You have ropes and harnesses, cleverly made devices that will help you be safe on the steep cliffs, even on ice. It will be cold and snowy at the top, so here are warm furs and all the cold weather wear you will need.” Handing Supervisor a folded parchment, the chieftain continued. “I have been to the top of this mountain many, many times, and I have prepared this detailed map that will show you the best path to get there. “Do not vary from the path as great danger lies that way.”, the chieftain said. The chieftain then brought out an ornate box. Opening it, he revealed two beautiful seashells nestled inside. “This is powerful magic.” the chieftain said, “These shells come from a place that is but legend for us. Somewhere beyond our valley, where none of our tribe have ever ventured.” Handing Supervisor a shell, the chieftain continued, “If you speak into the shell, I will be able to hear you, and you me, and we can be in constant communication. Don’t go off the path without talking to me. If you run into real trouble I will climb up myself and guide you through it.”
Supervisor squinted up at the top of the mountain, its peak shrouded in mist. The chieftain said, “Get to the top of the mountain and you will bring glory and riches to our tribe.”
The chieftain then went to another tribe member whom he had named “Manager”. “Come with me.” The chieftain said. He pointed his weathered hand across the valley and said: “Do you see that mountain in the distance? I want you to get to the top of it. Take whatever equipment you think you need from our store houses, I will tell the Elders who manage them to give you what you require. I have been to the top of this mountain years ago, and here is a guide on the route I found best. There may have been avalanches or rockslides or other changes, so you may have to navigate your own way. You have used the magic shells that enable me to hear you from afar, speak with me every day so I know how you are doing. If you get into real trouble I will do everything I can to talk you through it.”
With a practiced eye, Manager looked at the mountain and then at the chieftain’s guide. “The chief climbed the east face.” he thought to himself. “But I think the west looks faster. I may try that first.”
The chieftain looked at Manager approvingly. “Get to the top of the mountain and you will bring great glory and riches to our tribe.” he said. “And, if you are lucky, and the sky is clear, you may get a glimpse of the lands beyond our valley. I saw them once, just for a moment, when I was up there, and they were beautiful.”
One day one of the chieftain’s most trusted helpers came to him. This was a man the chieftain called “Executive” and he had given the chieftain wise counsel for a score of years and they had fought many a battle side-by-side.
“Chief, walk with me my friend.” Executive said. Pointing into the far distance Executive said, “Chief, do you see that big mountain on the horizon?” The chieftain nodded, squinting his eyes into the distance. “I think I should try to climb it. You and I have climbed many of these mountains, but never that one. It’s new territory. But, my chief, you have been the first to the top of other mountains and your skill is great, so let us sit on these rocks and look at it together and see if we can figure the most promising route to the top.”
For a long while, the chieftain and Executive studied the mountain. Their heads were close and their voices rose and fell as they plotted and debated the merits of various approaches and lines of ascent. Finally, Executive had the firm beginnings of a good plan, but he knew well that could all change the minute he was on the mountain.
“Chief,” Executive said “I’ll leave in the morning to start my climb. This is a great journey and I will need a large amount of equipment. Much of it I already have or control, and the rest I will request from the storehouses. The Elders are careful with our supplies, but I’m sure they will give me what I need as I have always brought bounty to the tribe.”
The chieftain embraced Executive and clapped him on his broad back. He looked deeply into his eyes for a moment, signaling his confidence.
Executive’s face glowed with determination. “Chief,” he said, “I will bring a magic shell and I’ll try to keep in touch and let you know where I am at as best I can, though the distance is great… so great that I know there is not much you can do to help me if I get in trouble, though I know you will try.”
“When I get to the top of this mountain, and I stand where no one in our tribe has ever stood before, I believe it will bring us a new kind of glory and riches that we have never known before, and I will be able to clearly see the lands beyond our valley and know if they are fair.”
The chieftain sat on a small rise, enjoying the last warm sun of fall. Older now, his eyes wrinkled from the sun, his back bowed but still strong, his hair shot with grey but still full, he looked out across the green valley and it was good. The people were strong, the storehouses were full.
By his side was a helper he called “Leader”. The chieftain straightened his back, and tried to not let Leader notice how the warm sun eased his aching joints.
Leader got to his feet, too full of energy to sit for long, though he knew the chieftain enjoyed his company. The chieftain liked to tell many long stories about the past.
Leader also looked across the valley. He knew every inch of it like he knew the lines on his own face, he knew every tribe member, which were the best climbers and who needed help. He knew the Elders and their work maintaining the storehouses, and he had added much bounty to them himself. But, as he looked across the green valley he could not stop his eyes from drifting up, up to the mountains and beyond. Ever had it been this way for him.
Leader turned to the chieftain. “Chief,” he said, “I believe that somewhere over that horizon lies a great mountain. This mountain is the likes of which you have never seen and can scarcely imagine. But, I believe I can climb this mountain because I know the fundamentals you have taught me and I have challenged and taught myself greatly and you know how I can climb.
I believe in climbing this mountain I will have need of new kinds of equipment that the tribe has never required before, and the cost might be great, so great that the storehouses will be depleted and the Elders will shudder at the thought.
The magic shells will not work at this distance, but you will know when I reach the top because great glory and riches, greater than any we have seen before, will come to us, and you will know that I am ready to lead the tribe out of this valley.