The Bright Side

By Jack Steward

We had just arrived at our camp, high up in the mountains of Great Basin National Park. Our entire crew sat beside the camp fire and shared stories about the different adventures that we had embarked on the last few months. I looked around and saw five different smiles lit by the flicker of the fire. It was about 10 degrees outside, but we were happy to be together. After another hour, it was time to head into the tent to get some sleep. That's when we found out that Paris was under siege by terrorists in a massive coordinated attack. 

Our smiles drifted off our faces and we were filled with grief and sadness. How could these people do this? Grief turned into anger, and negativity set in as I closed my eyes.

The next morning we woke up well before dawn. Darkness surrounded the tent as we prepared ourselves for the cold that awaited us outside. My thoughts were still with those in Paris. The anger and negativity permeated my mind as I stepped outside. As I breached the walls of the tent, I saw something that changed my perspective - morning's first light had struck Wheeler Peak, creating one of the most beautiful sights I had ever seen. We were still surrounded in darkness, but the light of a new day had illuminated the far side of the mountain; the bright side. 

This moment of pure beauty filled me with hope and joy. I was cold, saddened, angry and confused, but the light on the horizon was enough to lift my spirits in that moment. I realized that there is hope in a new day. This world is full of darkness, but the light of tomorrow is the hope of change and rebirth. I looked at the bright side of the mountain and knew that we could get there. I was motivated to move past the darkness, through the cold, and feel the warmth of the sun on the top of the tall mountain that hovered above us. It was going to be difficult, but I knew it was possible.

I believe in the to power of optimism. Positivity is the only way to achieve the impossible. Our world has become a place riddled with violence and fear, but it is those who believe in a better tomorrow that bring about change. They look to the bright side in the face of adversity - because they know that while the task may be difficult, it is possible if we try. Optimism has the power to fuel a heavy heart, but how do we find the bright side? It can be found even in the most desperate situations, we just have to open ourselves to the light.

The attacks in Paris instantly gave birth to shift in how we look at the world. We stand with those who were affected by this tragedy because they are in need of comfort. It is our empathy that gives way to unity. At this moment, we aren't Americans and Parisians - we're humans. It is this unity that reminds us that we are in this together. This is positivity. A moment that is riddled with grief and confusion has turned into a call to find answers together. This is the bright side - the hope of a better tomorrow that is just over the horizon. Just like the mountain, the road there is an uphill battle, but we can see the light - it is possible.

We can find the bright side in any situation, big or small. The other day I was on the tail end of a ten hour drive. I found myself stuck in traffic, forty miles outside of Los Angeles. I wanted so desperately to be home. Frustration set in as I inched my way down the freeway. It was then that I looked over at the car next to me and spotted a woman singing and dancing in her car. Here she was in the same situation as me, yet her face was full of joy. A smile crept across my face and I looked ahead to find that the sun was setting over the horizon. I quickly turned up the music and began to sing. It was that shift in attitude that gave me a second wind. I was energized and happy to be so close to home. It was going to take a while to get there, but I would make it soon enough. This is the bright side.

We have to be open to these promptings. They are all around us everyday, yet only visible to the trained eye. It is the optimist that finds good in any situation, because they are looking for it. Don't give in to negativity. Fight it with every bit of your being - because the positive shines so much brighter. 

I refuse to believe that our best days are behind us. In the midst of so much pain, there is hope for a better tomorrow through our ability to learn and grow as human beings. It takes the optimist to find the path toward the bright side. If we can all embrace the spirit of positivity, then nothing would seem impossible. The road will always be a cold, uphill battle - but our will for progress will fuel our motivation to pursue our goals. 

That moment of beauty on the mountain gave us the motivation to pursue the peak with our every will. As we climbed higher and higher, the task became more and more painful. The air was thinning as we breached 12,000 feet in altitude. Our legs felt like they were going to fall off, yet that pain never stopped us. The light of day began to slip away from us, and our goal was still far away. The setting sun gave way to disappointment and frustration. Finally, we all realized that we weren't going to make it to the peak. It was in that moment that my buddy Colton said something that really resonated with me. He said, "We are not failures. We gave it our all and fell short. There is no failure when you give your entire being to something." 

The power of optimism gives us hope that we can achieve anything. It might not be today, or even tomorrow, but it is possible. We didn't make it to the top of the mountain that day, but instead came away with an experience that tested our will and rewarded our effort. Here we were, watching the sunset from the ridge line of Wheeler Peak. I remembered that moment of motivation and joy earlier that day. The view of dawn's first light on the peak fueled our spirit and gave us the strength to push forward. Even though we fell short, we were all smiling again, just happy to be together. That is the bright side - we had made it after all.