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God and Jeffrey on Olympus Mons 

Chapter 3: Olympus Mons 

I was roaming across the hills of the Ardennes and, to be honest, feeling a little sorry for myself as I am want to do from time to time. The past year's financial crisis had seen business slow down and prospects for the coming year were uncertain at best. Add to that the concerns of a single father as to whether he is being a sufficiently good parent together with a general feeling of melancholy and, well, as I said, I was feeling sorry for myself. My self esteem was not what it could be. And when you want to accomplish big things, your self esteem really needs to be in good nick. So, I was walking across this lovely, hilly landscape as a distraction from my concerns. I often walk to think, to solve problems, to breathe. 

I came across a beautiful valley and was getting lost in the infinite variety of greens in the trees and grassy fields when I felt someone hug me from behind. The warmth filled my body and I knew at once She was paying me a visit. Nevertheless, I turned around to see her childish face whose eyes were wiser than wise.

Then there was a sudden, jarring transition, unlike the usual barely perceptible time-space transitions that occurred when God took me to a new reality. At the same time, I felt a loss of breath and an incredible coldness which lasted less than an instant.

Of course, I was somewhere new. Atop a vast mountain, possibly a volcano looking down over a red tinged dessert that extended to the horizon every direction. The sky was pink and the sun far too tiny. I sincerely doubted we were on Earth.

“We're not,” said God. “We are on what you call 'Olympus Mons'”.

“But that's...” I began in disbelief, yet the evidence was there.

“Yes. Mars. Isn't it beautiful?” She said.

“Out of this world,” I commented, not intending the pun. Olympus Mons is to our knowledge the largest mountain and volcano in the solar system. The view was stunning. It brought tears to my eyes.

“But how are we breathing?” I asked.

“Don't worry about that,” She told me. “Omnipotence has its advantages.”

Then she looked at me with her amazing eyes, “and don't worry about yourself, Jeffrey. I know you are going through a difficult period, but I also know that you are not giving yourself the credit you deserve for all that you have accomplished.”

She gestured towards the sky and I saw briefly the loves of my life: my two sons. “You have largely raised them yourself, sacrificing time from your business, nights out, opportunities to travel and much more.”

“And I don't regret a moment of that,” I said.

“Of course you don't,” that's why they are such wonderful children. And wait to see what they will accomplish as they grow older. They are my children too, you know, and I am also proud of them. As I am proud of all my children.”

Then I saw my old office in Bangkok, with that remarkable team of people I had working with me in the 90s. While I watched this image, as if projected into in the sky, those one-time employees aged, and I could see they had all succeeded professionally in the decade since I had sold the business and left Asia. Several now had families.

“You employed those people in your company,” She reminded me. “You gave them not only income, but skills in new technologies. And they have all bettered themselves.” Then I saw for a moment, Geng, the young messenger who was always getting himself into trouble (indeed, we once had to bail him out of jail!). He clearly had not done much better for himself.

“Well, maybe not all of them,” admitted God. “But nobody is perfect. He will eventually become a monk and find peace with his own understanding of me.”

And so it went. God showed me images from my life, many of which I had forgotten. And I realised: not only had I done much for my own life, but I had given others the opportunity to better themselves as well. And I felt a glow of pride, which made me feel slightly ashamed – my father taught me not to gloat.

“Don't be silly.” God interrupted my thoughts. “Your father, like you and your sons, was a remarkable man. But he was not always right. He taught you too much modesty. So you fail to acknowledge much of what you have accomplished and focus too much on what has not worked in your life. It should be the other way around.

“Everyone's life is a combination of failures and successes. It is best not to get bogged down in either. And critical not to moan the failures. Learn from them, but don't ruminate over them.”

She took my arm and veered me along the rim of the volcano. “Come,” She said.

As we walked, I looked down into the crater and saw images that reminded me of unfinished projects that were stressing me out; a person who I felt was holding me back from important goals I needed to accomplish; and other elements of my life that were then causing me frustration.

“Many of these things are doing you no good, Jeffrey. They are preventing you from accomplishing what you need to accomplish in your life,” She said.

“And what is that?” I asked.

“You must share my words with the world,” She said, matter-of-factly.

I expect I looked a bit disappointed.

“Among other things. Among many other things. Fear not, Jeffrey. You are not a messenger. You have within you the ability to accomplish many more great things in your life. The question is: will you exploit that ability or waste too much time in self pity?

“After we part, I want you to make a list of all of your accomplishments, especially those which have improved the lives of others. And I want you to frame that list on your study wall. There you will see it every day. That will heal your self confidence and help you to believe in yourself again. You need this.

“And you must rid yourself of people and projects that are holding you back from new accomplishments. You know who and what they are. The people may be hurt. But collaborating on life or business with people who do not mutually help one another is doing no one any favours. Better to find people with whom you can grow and projects that will lead you to greater things, rather than hold you back.”

“Then you will be ready to undertake new, greater tasks, like spreading my word,” she added with a wink and a smile.

In silence, we walked along the rim of Olympus Mons for a while longer. The view was stunning and inspirational and soon I itched to get to work with all I had learned on this walk. Perhaps God sensed that, for she kissed me on the cheek and said: “well, get to it then!”

And with another jarring transition, I found myself back on a hill in Belgium. I quickly filled my notebook with my memories of this talk. Then headed for my car. The Ardennes were, and are, beautiful. But I had much to do in order to add beauty to my own life.


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