It’s a weekday morning in the early fall and I’m standing on a mountain top in the Swiss Alps.
I’ve been hiking all morning, passing through tiny villages with dark-roofed homes and small chapels whose bells sing out every hour to remind us of the precise time. I’ve walked through fields of wildflowers that overlook snow-capped peaks and past a dozen waterfalls both small and large. And for the past hour I’ve been navigating thin pathways that wind across a barren high-altitude landscape dotted with leftover snow.
Forests, fields, cliffs, waterfalls, snow, and sunshine—this hike has been a perfect representation of everything Switzerland has to offer.
And now I’ve reached my goal, the top of a mountain: Männlichen, Switzerland.
At 7,687 feet above sea level, the town—a small collection of restaurants, rooms, and cable car stations—overlooks the waterfall-rich Lauterbrunnen Valley and three of the Swiss Alps’ most famous mountain peaks: Jungfrau, Mönch, and Eiger.
The main restaurant here is a large, square building with floor-to-ceiling windows that face the imposing, snow-dusted mountain peaks, and a wooden patio outside for sunny summer days.
It’s the perfect place to pause and celebrate a successful mountain hike. So I settle myself in front of the windows with a cup of thick, rich hot chocolate. And I spend an hour or so in the restaurant—thinking about how grateful I am to be here, sipping my drink, and marveling at the jagged edges of the mountains, which feel almost close enough to touch.
I also make a few notes about the experience, keeping track of my ideas and inspirations.
On a day like this, you’d think I was in the middle of a vacation, on the trip of a lifetime. But you’d be wrong. Because, for me, this is a workday—a perfect, wonderful, dream-job workday.
You see, I’m one of the lucky ones who traded in my 9-to-5 for a career as a travel writer.
Now, it’s my job to have adventures and revel in experiences around the world.
It’s my job to notice the snow on the ground as I navigate the mountain paths, to sit on a mountain peak and slowly savor the local fare, to be fully present in the moment, and to find the story in every experience.
It’s my job, in short, to live. Fully. Adventurously. With my eyes wide open.
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