Once a molehill came to worry it might not reach its full potential. Things had started out well enough, in its estimation. Being small was a relative term when all around you, other molehills were just starting out as well. Which of them knew for certain whether it was destined to make a mountain of itself or not? Which didn’t have equal scope to shape its future through the power of positive thinking? And didn’t all have an equal right, then, to aspire to casting long shadows at some point and being looked upon as a monument to molehill success? Granted, an Everest-amongst-molehills wasn’t anywhere to be seen. Instead, in every direction, meager piles rose to about the same level and no further. That didn’t mean one of them mightn’t achieve greatness someday, however, or that right now, in some distant field, a snow-capped peak hadn’t thrust itself overnight into the sky as inspiring proof that no molehill should settle for anything less than realizing its dream. The mere possibility of reaching this goal was enough to temper doubt, even on days when the clouds seemed as far out of reach as ever. In a way, their remoteness gave more room for the future to expand into glittering proofs of achievement over time. On warm summer mornings, the molehill would picture to itself the heights it might reach that very afternoon: ever-ascending triumphs that would bring both well-earned satisfactions and abiding recognition. And when afternoon turned into dusk without any of these triumphs having arrived or even hinting they were near, there was always tomorrow to look forward to, with its sustaining promise that would start all over again at dawn. Nor did those dawns, and there were many, when the molehill thought it might have detected an inching up overnight at some place nearby cause its own self-confidence to decline. If anything, that confidence grew to fill whatever new gap in comparative stature might seem to have opened up: one molehill’s rise could be proof that all molehills would have their day in these fields of opportunity as far as the eye could see. When days stretched into months and months into years, though, and that long-envisioned pinnacle of achievement hadn’t materialized, the molehill began to wonder if it was the victim of some unjust meting out of success and failure that ignored the force of ambition. Did other molehills really have more going for them, or did they owe their good fortune solely to being in the right place at the right time? Such thoughts didn’t provide more than temporary solace, the molehill found, and its disappointment increasingly left it with the sinking apprehension that this inability to reach its envisaged potential might be due to some lack within, an individual deficit that held it alone from measuring up and making the most of itself. But what could that undermining weakness be? Where in all the abilities it had trusted to lift it when an auspicious moment arrived could so calamitous a shortcoming lie hidden? Or might an assortment of small failings, too trivial in themselves to attract notice separately, have combined to deny it the full measure of success reached by others? These questions repeated themselves over and over, until the molehill had to admit that any answers simply prompted new doubts and deepening concern. Should it have done this differently or that differently or done nothing whatsoever, trusting entirely in the vagaries of fortune to place it among the high and mighty rather than its own powers? Other molehills, alone with their thoughts, must also be wrestling with self-doubt and shrinking within themselves at the fear that their most cherished expectations might never be met. There must be millions of similar molehills out there, barely aware of each other previously except as remote challenges to their own personal rise but now gradually understanding their shared reality—one that bestowed no spectacular triumphs, true, yet in its rebuff just might call forth something more imposing than even the loftiest mountain range could boast. Might there be an unrecognized majesty in their state? For the greatest of peaks erode away to less than a molehill with time, but to find your estimation of yourself thwarted from the start and yet still survive that continual defeat, still carry on in spite of it all, must require one of the towering strengths of this world.
Copyright © 2020 by Geoffrey Grosshans