Written May 2020
This last month I’ve broken out of my comfort zone physically and mentally by climbing mountains over 14,000 feet. Climbing days normally start at 2 or 3AM and have you on the trail for 10-12 hours. Just summoning the motivation to prepare your pack and make it to the trailhead before dawn can be exhausting.
On our first climb I felt a bit nervous as it was a big jump in elevation and more technical since we went off route for a portion of the climb and scrambled up the side wall, which turned it up from a class 2 to class 3+ for that part.
I remember thinking, “shouldn’t I start with class one, class 2 is okay, but class 3+ on my first mountain seems out of my league.”
The side wall was steep, there was lots of exposure which made me feel dizzy to even look at. The loose rock seemed dangerous. Part of me wanted to call it and say I gave it my best try, but I knew I would regret it.
Interestingly enough we were greeted at the base of the wall by a lone fox that came right up to us.
Tradition says that a solo fox crossing your path is good luck. The fox symbolizes physical or mental responsiveness and an ability to be swift in a tricky situation.
Perhaps it’s magic worked.
On the wall my whole body wanted to shake and tremble in fear as we carefully scrambled upwards. I stayed focused on my breath and only allowed my mind to think as far ahead as the next move. I didn’t let myself look down, because it conjured up too many “what ifs.” Up and over the wall was the only choice.
When I stepped upon the ridge at about 12,500 feet I planted my knees on the earth and allowed all the fear and emotion of the climb to release from my body through tears and trembling. I had just broke free of my comfort zone and what I perceived I could do.
I was awe struck as I took in a panoramic view around the mountain range. It was like standing above the clouds. It was something I’ve never felt or seen before. It takes the brain and body a moment to adjust to the novelty and beauty.
Within minutes I had newfound energy and charged on towards the summit.
When You Rise Above
The mountain will expose many truths, there are many emotions you’ll go through, multiple times you’ll want to quit, there are many elements that are out of your control, but if the conditions are manageable, if you keep your breath steady and not let fear or fatigue get the best of you, if you keep putting one foot in front of the other and hold faith you can make it.
Life is quite similar.
It reminds me of a quote from Bruce Lee, “If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else. It will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.”
When you break free of the shackles of fear and rise up to a new level whether it’s on the mental, physical, spiritual plane or all the above there’s no going back down the ladder. You realize you are capable of so much more than you once thought. Your confidence and competency grows and your roots become stronger creating a more resilient foundation. On that foundation you can give, share, create, and make the world a better place.
I thank the mountain for granting me an opportunity to rise up, and I aim to use these lessons throughout life to do my part. I encourage you, in your own way, to do the same.
Thanks for being on this journey with me,