The hardest mountain trail to climb gets you the best seat in the forest.
DB - The Vagabond
Once upon a time I set out on a hike across a ridge of mountains. It was an ambitions hike over a northern peak, down to a long ridge with a smaller peak and up to a southern peak. It was a hike that would take a long time.
There are many ways to give up. Some people give up before they start. They will look at the task, say "That's too difficult for me" and not even attempt it. That's one way of giving up.
I parked my car at the base of the southern mountain and rode my bicycle to the base of the northern peak, hid it in the bushes and started out.
Others will begin and drop out when the going gets tough. They'll say "This is harder than I thought." That's a reason to stop.
At first the trail went along smoothly and then suddenly it turned and started up the steep ascent. I was pulling on branches and roots to help me climb. It was almost totally a relentless ascent straight up.
Some people will keep going and when they get half way there or a little further they will say "That's enough, I proved I can do it. I don't have to do any more." Another good reason for stopping.
After several hours I came out of the timberline into open spaces. It was a beautiful day, the view was wonderful and I was exhausted. I looked up and couldn't see the summit. All I could see above me was rock, without even a bush to grab onto to help me up.. I had brought some food with me so I decided to have it and then start back down.
Some people will stop just before they finish. The marathon runner's body wants to quit usually 6 to 8 miles before the finish line. Giving up just before you get there is a shame, but many people do it. They do it because they don't know how long, or how much effort it's going to take to get there.
After my lunch I looked up above me again and said "What the hell. I might as well make the summit, then I can go back down, go home and forget about the rest of the hike. So I started back up and was amazed to find that the summit was only 10 minutes away.
But when people don't give up, when they make it, when the actually accomplish what they set out to do, they are frequently amazed at what else they are capable of.
Standing on the top of that mountain I felt victorious, and that encouraged me to go on. So I did. I made it across the range and down the southern slope to my car, drove over to pick up my bicycle, headed home and lived happily ever after. More or less.