From the book Deep Survival by Laurence Gonzales

That invisible rope that holds us here can always break. We can live a life of bored caution and die of cancer. Better to take the adventure, minimize the risks, get the information, and then go forward in the knowledge that we have done everything we can. No, some people would rather not see it, but the bull is there all of us. Some of us choose to pass the cape in front of its horns. To live life is to risk it. And when you feel the rush of air and catch the stink of hot breath in your face, you enter the secret order of those who have seen their own death close up. It makes us live that much more intensely. So intense is it for some that it seals their fate; once they've tasted it, they just can't stop. And in their cases, perhaps we have to accept that the light that burns brightest burns half as long. But I believe that if you do it right, you can have it all. I adhere to what my daughter Amelia calls the Gutter Theory of Life. It goes like this: You don't want to be lying in the gutter, having been run down by a bus, the last bit of your life ebbing away, and be thinking, "I should have taken that rafting trip" or "I should have flown upside down with smoke"  : Pete Conrad was the third man to walk on the moon. He died in a motorcycle accident on an ordinary day. It took him a while to die as he went to the hospital. I wonder what he was thinking. I hope it was: I did it all.

What’s Your Routine? 
Todd Lewis, Windstream

More than a decade ago, Todd Lewis found himself among a crowd at a sales conference in Dallas. Lou Holtz, the coach who led Notre Dame’s football team to a national title in 1988, gave a speech that left an indelible impression on the telecom salesman. Holtz’s advice was that attendees make a list of goals as a means of focusing their energies. On the flight home, Lewis started a “bucket list,” including running a marathon, climbing Mount Whitney in California, running with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain. For Lewis, who weighed about 217 pounds at the time and said he had “never run more than three miles in my life,” the list was ambitious. He started with a marathon. “When I started training it was interesting, because mentally you think 26.2 miles is impossible,” Lewis, 42, said. “I took it slow, built up over time, which also helped with my work routine.” Eventually Lewis hit a fitness level that gave him the strength to do one marathon a month for a full year. He’s run more than 40 marathons over the past few years — his best time was 3 hours, 48 minutes — and even managed a 50-mile run. Now Lewis, a direct sales team member with Windstream, maintains his fitness by running three to four nights a week, averaging between five to 10 miles each run. He varies his marathon training with short-distance, speed work. “I’ll run 300 yards at a fast clip, which is also making a difference on my overall mileage time,” he said. He complements his running with a weight routine in the gym, alternately exercising major muscle groups with free weights one week, then switching to fitness machines the next week. The change has been phenomenal, Lewis said. At 6 feet 1 inch tall, Lewis now weighs about 197 pounds and has maintained that weight for the past 12 years. Lewis said he eats whatever he wants to fuel his exercise routine but tries to stick with whole foods rather than fast food. He also works at outdoor gear retailer REI in Brentwood on the weekends to get discounts on gear and talk shop with other adventurers. Back to the bucket list. Lewis has checked off running a marathon, running with the bulls in Spain (three times), climbing Mount Whitney, and has added hiking in Peru to Machu Picchu, running a marathon through Dublin, Ireland, and climbing or hiking in Malaysia, Nepal and Italy. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Next up: Running the Go! St. Louis Marathon in April before packing off to Oregon to climb Mount Hood. Lewis said he does most trips solo. “It forces me to get out of my comfort zone for a learning experience as well as a physical experience.”

Todd Lewis If you make a list, it will come

by Pamela Kramer Childress
                In today’s marketing savvy world, anyone with a vice to cure or a heart to mend can find help. From television shrinks to self-help books to “bucket” lists — the answer to all our problems is just a Hollywood ending away. That’s why Todd Lewis is so special. He simply took someone’s advice, grabbed a pen and paper, and wrote down what he really wanted out of his life. Then he went to work.
                That was nine years ago and he’s still making lists. 
                Making lists is nothing new. Most of us have sticky notes all over our house to remind us of mundane tasks. But Lewis’ lists are big and bold. And it’s not a list of “what I want to do before I die” either. It’s a running list of things to do now — today. “I’ll get to it someday” is not a phrase Lewis will utter.
                Most of us might take one dream and make it a reality. Lewis takes a lifetime of accomplishments and churns them out. He ran with the bulls in Spain — three years in a row. He climbed Mt. Whitney, Mt. Kilimanjaro and the summit of Everest. He hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru. He even flew his mother to Ireland to watch him run a marathon. On June 1, he completed his most current goal — 40 marathons before he turned 40 (just in the nick of time — his birthday was June 17).
                So where did he find his inspiration? It started out in the typical way.
                “I was in Dallas. I didn’t want to go. The last thing I wanted to go to was a sales kick-off — and then they brought out Coach Holtz,” Lewis said. “That night on the flight [back], I wrote my list.”
                As Lewis tells it, Coach Lou Holtz is the real deal. His humility, genuineness and humble beginnings are what inspired Lewis to make his list. “It just made sense when I heard him speak,” Lewis said.
                Lou Holtz was unemployed when he made his list of goals many years ago. Turns out, one of his big career highlights was taking Notre Dame to a national football title in 1998. As is common among most successful coaches, Holtz is known for his inspirational quotes and his ability to motivate his players. His successful career includes best-selling books and the lecture circuit, despite his lisp. Because of his popularity, he makes for a great speaker at sales conferences, too.
                It took him nine years, but Lewis finally met his hero. On June 13, Lewis flew to East Liverpool, Ohio to the Holtz Museum and shared 15 minutes with the Coach. Lewis reminded Holtz of a story he told in one of his books about Bob Hope calling his wife on their anniversary. Holtz was so tickled by the memory that he decided to replay the gesture. Holtz called Lewis’ mother on the spot and autographed his book to her.
                “For him to call my mother — it’s worth its weight in gold,” Lewis said.
                Lewis tried every angle to get a meeting with Coach Holtz. He emailed and called any person who might have some connection to the Coach. Over the years, Holtz has even retired and then returned to coaching. But wherever he was, Lewis kept trying to track him down.
                “It turned into a life-long goal to shake his hand,” Lewis said. “To meet that man after nine years and say ‘thank you, you’ve made a huge impact in my life’ was a dream come true.”
                Lewis has realized many dreams over the last nine years. Not everyone has the opportunity to hop on a plane and go to Africa to climb a mountain. But that’s not the point. For Lewis, it’s just as much about the people he meets as it is about the mountain he climbs.
     “If you saw my bank account you wouldn’t be impressed. If you saw my scholastic career, you wouldn’t be impressed. But what is important is just your attitude and the people you surround yourself with.”
     He now has friends all over the world. At an airport, he ran into fellow ‘running with the bulls’ participant, Dennis Rodman, former NBA player. He even emailed Mavericks owner Mark Cuban who also took a meeting with Lewis.
                “My life turned for the better nine years ago,” said Lewis. “It changed my outlook on things — from what I need to own or what I want to own to things I want to see and the people I want to meet.”
                In a world of instant gratification, Lewis would rather put in the time, relish the work and get to know the people. Now, he can shoot an email to a friend in Malaysia and send a graduation card to his climbing guide’s daughter in Africa.
                “You just can’t put a price tag on it,” Lewis said. “I work hard. I couldn’t have it any better. I’m not wealthy. I’m definitely not intelligent, but to me, it’s just about the people I meet.”
                To Lewis, it’s all about the journey and the people along the way. He’s living proof that it’s more fun to get off the couch and experience life rather than sit and wait for things to happen. His advice is to find your passion and go for it.
                “The best reality show is your own life,” Lewis said. “Don’t watch other people’s dreams come true. Make your own dreams.”
                For a man that has accomplished so many physical feats, it must be hard to hear someone lament about wanting to lose 10 pounds or give up caffeine.
                “The main thing is nobody’s goals are more important than somebody else’s,” Lewis said. “No goal is too small. Make your list. Try to imagine you’ve got one year left. What can you do to fix those broken relationships? What do you want to see? What do you have to do to make it happen? What’s stopping you?”
                How’s that for a Hollywood ending.

Holtz’s message still an inspiration


Article Photos

On Friday, Todd Lewis (right) had the opportunity to meet Lou Holtz, the man who inspired him. (Photo by Wayne Maris) View additional photos of this event at

EAST LIVERPOOL — Nine years ago, Todd Lewis quit his job.
He blames — or credits — Lou Holtz.
“I was spinning my wheels in a sales job,” Lewis said. “I attended a mandatory meeting in Texas, and one night a motivational speaker was brought in at dinner. It was Lou Holtz.”
Holtz spoke that night about overcoming his own challenges and about how he accomplished so much despite those difficulties.
During the speech, Holtz also spoke about having a positive attitude, the importance of helping others and about a list he made out, full of goals that he wanted to accomplish. The list grew to contain 108 items.
On the flight back home, Lewis read a book by Holtz, decided to quit his job and made his own list of goals.
Included on that list was to run a marathon, write a poem, give a speech, climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, watch a game at Wrigley Field, take his mother on a trip to Ireland and — a goal also mentioned by Holtz — to run with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain. Holtz never realized that goal, but Lewis did.
“I credit coach Holtz and his message that day for making me realize this life is short and every day is a blessing,” Lewis said.
Lewis had one more item on the list. He wanted to meet the man who inspired him.
Friday, Lewis got the opportunity.
Standing in the conference room at the Lou Holtz/Upper Ohio Valley Hall of Fame, Lewis shook the hand of Lou Holtz and thanked him.
“He comes across just as I expected,” Lewis said. “He’s a genuine, sincere man. He taught me that you can do great things if you set goals. The society today believes too much in instant everything.”
Holtz signed a few autographs and posed for a few pictures with Lewis and offered up some compliments.
“The trust and commitment and care you showed ... It’s not complicated to do the right thing,” Holtz told Lewis, “I’m proud of you.”
Robin Webster, director of the Hall of Fame, said she received an e-mail from Lewis in February and asked that she thank Holtz for him.
“I just thought that he could come here and do it for himself,” Webster said.
So on Friday, Lewis made the trip from St. Louis, Mo., to East Liverpool for the opportunity to thank Holtz.
After the introductions, Lewis handed Holtz a gift — a small bag of sand from Pamplona when Lewis ran with the bulls.
“This is probably the closest I’m ever going to get to doing it,” Holtz said with a smile.

"No one can tell me where my soul might be,
I searched for God but he eluded me,
I sought my brother out and found all three."


Poet Howard Crosby

Grabbing Life by the Bull Horns
By: Karen Cernich

Todd Lewis as he climbed Mt. Whitney in California.
Todd Lewis' Web site address says it all - And that's only the beginning. His list of personal accomplishments is long.
He has hiked Machu Picchu, climbed Mount Everest to base camp, Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Shasta and Mount Whitney, walked part of el Camino de Santiago in Spain, and run 33 marathons - his goal is to have run a total of 40 before June 2008, when he turns 40.

Last year Lewis ran the Pike's Peak Marathon in Colorado, known as "America's Ultimate Challenge."
"You run a half marathon up the mountain on one day," he said. "Then the next day you do a full marathon up and down."
Why did he do it?
"I'd heard it was the hardest thing in the United States," he remarked.
Lewis' list of accomplishments goes on and on, but you get the idea. If you're looking for some inspiration in getting more things done in your own life, read on.
Obviously, Lewis is a no-nonsense kind of guy. He doesn't mess around with things that aren't working.
Take his job for example. A few years back he was working a "lousy" sales job when he woke up one day and decided he'd had enough. He submitted his resignation and the next day booked a trip to Nepal where he climbed to base camp of Mount Everest.
"After I left the company, I made a list of things I wanted to do - marathons I wanted to run, people I wanted to meet and things I had always wanted to do . . . like I had always read about running with the bulls in Spain, so I decided to do it."
Lewis began setting annual goals back in 2002. He had just heard legendary Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz speak at a conference about some of the incredible things he's been able to do in his life, and Lewis took it to heart.
"I read his book and it inspired me to turn things around," he said. "If I'm unhappy about something, I move on. I try to stop focusing on the negative and find the positive."
Lewis admits it gets tough at times, but that's when he turns back to the people who inspire him.
"If I need a little boost, I might listen to a speech by Bobby Knight or Lou Holtz, or I might get out a book," said Lewis, noting one of his favorites is "Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor Frankl. "That should be required reading for everyone. It's just that powerful."
Lewis' annual goals are often large, like the feats mentioned earlier, but there are simple things too - like going to a Chicago Bears playoff game, being in a print ad, and shaking the hand of Mark Cuban, the billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks.
"I sent him an e-mail telling him how it was a goal of mine to shake his hand, and I was really surprised, but he e-mailed me back. He said he was giving a speech in Indiana and if I could be there at 8 a.m., he would shake my hand."
Lewis had to leave his house in Soulard in the middle of the night to make it there, but he did, and he shook Cuban's hand.
Of course there have been times when Lewis didn't cross off every item on his list by the end of a year, but he doesn't beat himself up over it.
"There were a couple of things I fell short on (last) year - I wanted to get my marathon time down to three hours and 45 minutes so I can get closer to qualifying for the Boston Marathon - you have to have a 3:20 time for that - and I wanted to run the St. Jude Marathon a few weeks back, but it was my grandma's 94th birthday, so that came first."
The few 2007 items that he didn't reach by Dec. 31 have been rolled over onto his new 2008 list. He's not upset over it, but instead looks at it as proof that he's doing something right.
"If you're consistently hitting every goal you set every year, then you're not setting your goals high enough," Lewis remarked.
"I'm constantly trying to find something else that I haven't done or attempted," he said. "I'm not afraid of failure. If I fail, well at least I tried."
Lewis hopes he inspires other people to make their own list of goals. They don't have to be lofty adventure trips, but they should be positive. For many people their first instinct is to say they can't do certain things, said Lewis, yet they sit on their sofas night after night watching reality TV shows like "Survivor." That's backward, he said. People should be taking on their own challenges, instead of watching strangers.
"We're so drawn to watch other people live their lives, but we forget to live our own life," Lewis remarked.
Lewis doesn't claim to be anyone special - and, no, he isn't dying from a terminal illness, nor is he a bored rich man. He just believes in living life to the fullest and doing what it takes to make that happen.
He's found a company to work for that inspires him rather than drain him. He handles telecommunication sales for NuVox Communication in St. Louis. His territory includes Franklin County and he's in this area several times a month.
"It's the kind of company that cares about its employees and its customers," said Lewis, "from the top down to the sales manager. Like, when I hit a sales quota, I get a handwritten note from our CEO."
In addition to his full-time job with NuVox, Lewis also works weekends at the REI outdoor gear store in St. Louis. He was already buying many of the things he needed to go on his adventure trips from REI, and this way he can earn extra money to pay for his trips and network with others who share his interests.
"I went into REI one day with my list of goals and said, 'I want to work here and here's why . . . Now I'm able to meet people who do these types of trips, which motivates me and gives me new ideas, and I'm able to help people who are going on these kinds of trips for the first time."
The people that Lewis meets on the path to achieving his goals is a large part of what drives him to keep going.
"The people I meet along the way are so incredible, whether I'm climbing a mountain or running a marathon," he said. "It's the afterward, when I'm celebrating with the people . . . what we did as a group that's the best part."
Here are a few more of Lewis' words of wisdom:
"Every day is exciting. I never wake up in a bad mood."
"I don't want to look back and say I regret not trying."
"You have to be willing to fail."
But this quote is what sums up his philosophy of life:
"We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us."
Lewis adds, "I want Death to cry with fear when it is my time."
If you're ready to make your own list of goals for 2008, Lewis has a few tips to help you be successful:
1. Write down the things you want to achieve. It doesn't have to be long.
Lewis keeps his list to about eight or 10 items in the beginning, but as the year progresses and he crosses items off, he adds more.
2. No goal is too small.
Lewis has some simple things on his list, like give a speech, write a poem, watch a game at Wrigley Field in Chicago.
When some of his friends were teasing him that he never made it to his fraternity's annual goal outing, one of them said, "Put that on your list." He did, and he finally went on the trip last year.
3. Come up with a plan to make it happen. That's the only way you will achieve each goal.
Lewis has already come up with some of his 2008 goals:
1. Complete the Lake Tahoe marathon, which is unique because it requires running three marathons in three days. That's in September 2008.
2. Climb Mount Elbrus in Russia. It's part of his long-term goal to summit a mountain on each of the seven continents.
3. Buy his mom a house.
Lewis said the most thrilling thing he has ever done was making a trip to Dublin, Ireland, to run the marathon - not because he had mastered any physical feat, but because he went there with his mom.
A while back, Lewis and his brother bought their mom a car, a Honda Del Sol, because it's her favorite and never fails to make her smile. Now they want to buy her a house.
"Our mother's a saint," he said. "She really deserves it."


Todd Lewis as he climbed Mt. Whitney in California.

Goals 2008

Shed 15 pounds of weight
Run the Lake Tahoe 3 day 3 marathon race
Pikes Peak 1/2 on Saturday and 26.2 on Sunday
Climb Mt. Elbrus in Russia
Rim to Rim of the Grand Canyon
50K Run
Draft outline for book
Speak with Coach Lou Holtz
40th Marathon by June 17th 2008

2007 Goals

Ultra Marathon
Mt. Whitney
Marathon under 3:45
Attend the Sig Ep Golf Outing in Chicago


Goals 2006





New York City Marathon


GOALS 2005

12 Marathons/12 Months

Climb Mt. Shasta

Base Camp of Mt. Everest

Marathon under 3:48

Dublin Marathon

The ultimate goal-oriented guy
By Amy Bertrand
Post-Dispatch Health & Fitness Editor

Here is the story.

Todd Lewis has goals. Not just the goals most people have, but lofty goals,
and lots of them.

He wants to buy his mom and grandmother houses, he wants to write a book,
he wants to be on "Oprah," and he wants to compete in an Ironman Triathlon.

But take Lewis seriously when he says he'll complete them. He's already
crossed a few goals off his list. He's climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, he's met
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, he's run with the bulls in Spain three
times, and he's in the process of one of his biggest goals: running a
marathon a month for the entire year.

In the beginning:

Lewis grew up in Valier, a small town in Southern Illinois, where he played
football and baseball and ran track, mainly short-distance relays.

After high school and then college he went to work as a sales executive,
concentrating on that and not so much on his fitness.

"I'd go to the gym occasionally, and I'd play racquetball, but not a lot."

And that was a prime recipe for a few pounds to find their way to his belly
over the years.

But one day he heard Lou Holtz, the legendary college football coach, speak
at a conference in Dallas.

"He talked about passion for life and about making a list of everything you
want to accomplish."

On the flight home, Lewis started making his own list.

He had some pretty big goals: reach the summit of Mount Everest (he
recently came back from a trip to the base camp there), meet Cuban, take
his mom to Ireland, run a marathon. He decided that if he was going to
accomplish these goals, he'd need some more cash, so he got a part-time job
at REI, the outdoors store in Brentwood. He's since quit his other job and
works full time at REI.


Lewis isn't sure what made him think he could run a marathon. After all,
the most he'd run before that had been five miles.

"I know that runners have a drive and a passion for life," he says. "I felt
connected with them. My philosophy is that if you focus all your attention
on something and surround yourself with positive influences, you can do it.
You have to visualize yourself finishing. And that's what I did."

So he started researching how to run a marathon. "I think I bought every
book in Border's," he says.

He found the Web site, where he got his personal cyber
running coach.

In early October 2002 he began his training in earnest. He'd do several
short to mid-length runs during the week (5 to 8 miles), and on the weekend
he and a friend would go to the Katy Trail for progressively longer runs.

He'd get up as early as 4:30 or run as late as 10 p.m. to make sure he
strictly followed his training schedule.

Just a little over two months later, he ran his first marathon: the St.
Jude's Marathon in Memphis, Tenn. His time: a respectable 4:07.

"It was such an incredible experience," he says. "It was such a great sense
of accomplishment. But it was also a little overwhelming."

More goals:

With his first marathon under his belt, Lewis was hooked. He did many more
in the following years. And during that time, he kept adding to his list of
goals. One goal: run a marathon a month in 2005. In January he did the Rock
'N Roll Arizona Marathon; in February it was the Austin, Texas, marathon;
in March he traveled to Virginia Beach, Va., for the Shamrock Sportsfest
Marathon; in April he actually did two marathons, the Spirit of St. Louis
Marathon and then the Country Music Marathon in Nashville; in May he ran in
the now-infamous 27.2-mile Lake Shore Drive Marathon in Chicago (the course
was measured incorrectly); June took him to the Rock 'N Roll Marathon in
San Diego; for July it was the Runner's World San Francisco Chronicle
Marathon; this month he went to Reno, Nev., for the marathon there; in
September he'll stay close to home with the Lewis & Clark Marathon in St.
Charles; and October is the big one: Dublin, Ireland. He hasn't locked down
November and December yet, but he'd like to end the year with Memphis,
where he ran his first marathon.


When Lewis first went to his doctor to be sure he was fit enough to run a
marathon - something he recommends to anyone contemplating serious running
- she said he was perfectly healthy.

When he started running marathons, she tried to talk him out of doing so

But the more marathons he runs, the more his body adapts to it, he says.

Plus, he's found a way to avoid the pain: ice baths. After a marathon he'll
soak in an ice bath for 15-20 minutes.

"I just grab a good book and tough my way through it. It really works. I
have no pain the next day."

That was evident in June, when he ran the San Diego marathon and two days
later climbed Mount Shasta.

At first Lewis got shin splints and blisters, and now he sometimes gets
black toenails, but he's stayed mostly injury-free in the three years that
he's been running seriously.

The future:

"I keep trying to raise the bar. I do have some simple things on my list,
like to make a complete stranger's day. ... But there are also some big
goals on there." Such as getting a law degree and qualifying for the Boston

He would also like to do a triathlon, particularly the grueling Ironman
(26.2-mile run, 113-mile bike ride and 2.4-mile swim).

His list, which started out at about 20 items, has now grown to more than
120, even as he's crossed about 30 off that list.

His workouts now:

Lewis runs three days a week, with distances ranging from 5 to 8 miles. On
the weekend he'll get in a semi-long run of 14 to 16 miles. Every three or
four weeks he runs 26.2 miles in the marathons he enters. He also lifts
weights twice a week at Gold's Gym downtown, for about 45 minutes to an
hour at a time.

He'll ride his bike once a week, "just to mix it up a bit."

He's starting to add some speedwork to his workout routine, too, in hopes
of getting fast enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

His best time is 3:48; he'll need to get a 3:15 to qualify for Boston.

"I know I can do it," he says. "I'm convinced I can."

To that end, he'll cut back on the number of marathons next year, and he'll
focus on speed work, mainly interval runs on a track.

A typical day:

During his early training, Lewis dropped about 30 pounds by reducing his
portion sizes, particularly the carbs. He also started eating more times a
day to speed up his metabolism. And, "I drink as much water as I can hold."

For breakfast he'll usually have a bagel with light cream cheese and some

Lunch will be something from the hot bar at Whole Foods Market: often a
starch, a vegetable and a lean protein.

Dinner is usually light, perhaps salmon and broccoli.

For snacks he'll eat protein bars or fruit.

He still enjoys an occasional glass of alcohol, and from time to time he'll
allow himself his two biggest weaknesses: Tucker's steak and Joannie's
pizza. "I'll reward myself sometimes," he says. "You can't be too strict."


Name: Todd Lewis

Age: 37

Home: St. Louis

Occupation: Sales at REI

What he did: He's in the process of completing another of his major goals:
running a marathon a month in 2005

Quotable: "Some people say, 'I've always wanted to run a marathon.' I say
to them, 'What are you doing to get there?'"


 Todd Lewis takes a breather on his way to Mount Everestís Base Camp. Each year, Lewis makes a list of goals to accomplish, including daredevil acts such as running with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain and competing in a marathon each month for a year.

"Everything can be taken from a man but ...the last of the human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."

Viktor E. Frankl

"No king or prince has lived a better life,"

Evil Knievel

"I must pack my short life full of interesting events and creative activity.  Philosophy and aesthetic contemplation are not enough.  I intend to do everything possible to broaden my experiences and allow myself to reach the fullest development.  Then, and before physical deterioration obtrudes, I shall go on some last wilderness trip, to a place I have known and loved.  I shall not return."

Everett Ruess

I'd like to get away from earth awhile.
And then come back to it and begin over.
May no fate willfully misunderstand me.
And half grant what I wish and snatch me away
Not to return.
Earth's the right place for love:
I don't know where it's likely to get better.
I'd like to go by climbing a birch tree,
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.

Robert Frost