So I climbed a mountain a few weeks ago. How was? It seemingly felt like four hours of stair master with a view. But joking aside it was AWESOME. Arriving at the summit felt much like finishing a race.
Once it’s said and done I typically look back, reflect on the mileage I covered and think to myself: It’s over? That wasn’t so bad. Who cares if I almost lost that giant bowl of carbs I consumed last night at mile marker 2, can I keep going?!
Call it adrenaline or a certain sort of runner’s high but the sense of accomplishment and content are enough to make me want more.
And while some of you may think I’m crazy and that this kind of thing isn’t your speed, don’t tune me out yet. In the metaphorical world my mountain may be your next business venture or a new language you learn or instrument you play. Hell, it could be that sexy ass dress hanging in your closet you’ve yet to muster up the courage to wear. Whatever your mountain may be, know that it can be conquered.
And naturally that sounds just as lame in print as it does in my head. In fact, I can’t think of any new way of explaining what I learned while climbing up Mount Washington without it coming out as cliche.
It’s all been said before and there are plenty of bloggers who can paint a way better picture of the journey than I. That’s why I’ve decided to elaborate on my experience using five of my favorite quotes that came to mind during my ascent to the top.
If I decided to take that hike solely for the view at the top I would have been screwed. Approximately 1.8 miles from it’s peak Mt Wash began swallowing the clouds. From that point on we saw giant boulders, rock piles as trail markers called Cairns and lots of other hikers. But what we didn’t see when reaching the summit was that coveted 360 degrees of peaks, valleys and horizon.
But you know what? I didn’t care. Sure it would’ve been nice to see the White Mountains from the top of the world, but I took in so much beauty along the way to be fully satisfied with my quest.
Sitting here now and letting that fact soak in makes me realize I spend so much of my time focusing on the wrong things. More often than not I prioritize checking off the task at hand, so to speak, that I forget to remain present and enjoy each part of the process. Which leads me to quote #2.
Indeed it does. We all have our own stories of personal triumph. They all began by taking that first step. So why then is it so much more difficult to start some challenges over others? As in most situations containing obstacles what’s needed is desire, motivation and will. But sometimes we need more than that in order to act. Sometimes we need a coach or cheerleader at the very least.
For this climb, I had my sister-in-law leading the charge. If it wasn’t for her I would have never even entertained the idea but I trusted her guidance. When it was time to embark on our little journey I didn’t need to think. With Jess and her best friend Heather having my back, all I had to do was take that first step. And then another and another and so on.
The human body is a machine. Food is fuel. I firmly believe the two preceding statements. Though at times, when the body is fatigued and the path seems endless, it’s very easy to forget this.
The hike wasn’t as difficult as I imagined it to be yet it was still a challenge. In fact, there were times I was legitimately concerned that I’d never be able to make it back down if I were to stumble and turn an ankle. I do have some weak ass ankles.
But that’s clearly not the thing to think about when you’re almost 6,000 feet above sea level. As the climb became more and more technical all I could do was let go of any negative thought and trust that I was prepared and capable.
No one knows you like you. I once strained my chest muscle and thought I was having a heart attack so I drove myself to the ER at 12 o’clock at night. A couple months later I suspected I had a stomach ulcer (it was a bad few months) and ended up with an endoscopy and colonoscopy all in one go. A hefty price to pay to learn I had acid reflux but hey, it was worth the piece of mind.
My point is, if you don’t like the way you feel you have the power to do something about it. The same voice in my head urging me to get on the trail also told me to take a break when my breath became heavy and the air became thin. I have a tendency to push myself out of competing with myself. But over the years (probably after the whole strained chest/heart attack thing) I realized that slow and steady wins the race.
This is my all-time favorite quote and yet I still let worry cloud my judgement leading up to hike day. In fact, I spent so much time worrying about everything from bad weather to bears that I failed to see the bright side of things.
In retrospect I should have been looking forward to the peace and tranquility of the forest and how amazing the sights and sounds would be. By fearing the worst I deprived myself from being happy and free of care.
Which is ironic because if you asked my mother, I never worry about anything. That used to be an accurate assessment. But something happened after I grew up, got married and had kids. I got scared. I’m sure part of this is the natural process of being a parent with adult responsibilities. Not only have I acquired a decent job and a mortgage, but also two beautiful children and one amazing husband. The more I gain, the more I have to lose.
To move past this sobering thought and actually put something into action, I like to reference the article Live Like You Could Lose Everything But Know There’s Nothing To Lose. In his post writer Benjamin P. Hardy discusses how there is only upside in life and all that we have, all that surrounds us is a gift. Once we begin approaching life with gratitude we can truly be free.
It’s a fact that those who count their blessings are happier people. Perhaps the next time worry enters my mind, I’ll think about everything I’m grateful for instead.
We as human beings are hardwired to avoid anything that is unfamiliar, uncomfortable and risky. But we know that to achieve something great we must be able to act. Despite how difficult and scary the challenge may be, know you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Just remember what I thought of while climbing my mountain:
- It’s Not About the Destination it’s About the Journey.
- The Journey of a Thousand Miles Starts with One Step.
- Trust Yourself. You’re Stronger than You Think.
- Listen to Your Body.
- Worry is Misuse of Imagination.
It is not the mountain we conquer, it is ourselves – Sir Edmund Hillary