When it comes to making important life changes or tackling a challenge, I say there’s no better day than tomorrow to start. It should come as no surprise that I’m a little resistant to discomfort, a lot resistant to pain. Sorry if you were looking for something motivational on your Whole 30.
A few weeks ago, my husband and I got up super early and drove a ways to pile on layers of clothing and poop in bushes so we could enjoy the beauty and majesty of God’s creation by climbing a tall mountain. I’m still conflicted about the experience: a real love-hate, mountaintop-valley, life-lesson kind of thing.
I was enjoying myself and reaching for my first snack, a banana, while I gazed up at what I thought was close to the summit, because I could see silhouettes of other hikers yonder. When my husband informed me that we would probably be 1/3 the way up the mountain by that point, my enthusiasm started to wane.
Later, I asked him to check our elevation – 12,100 feet above sea level – and I decided that the last 2,000 feet of our journey were probably throwaway. God wouldn’t make treelines and treacherous deadly mountaintops if he intended me to walk on them, I reasoned. “We’ve come so far, let’s turn around now,” I looked at him with my helpmeetiest doe eyes. But he wouldn’t let me.
Between the icy surface of the rocks, the cutting wind, and the chalky taste of a Clif bar in my mouth, the rest of the hike was less than enjoyable. Every so often I would stop and tell my husband to go on without me, vowing to wait for him right where I stood. He refused. When we were probably 300 feet away from the summit, and all I could see was huge, slippery deathtrap rocks that I had absolutely no desire to climb, I got real.
“Nick. I am staying here. I am serious. Please. Please. I don’t care about going up there. PLEASE.”
His patience had run out, but his stubbornness had not. I followed begrudgingly, and once we finally reached that stupid official marker at the top of the mountain, I couldn’t enjoy the view, because I was afraid I was going to fall off of the mountain, and I also knew the impossible journey ahead of me to get down. I ate another banana, this time bruised and soggy, and hunkered down, mostly ignoring my husband. We got a few pictures in which my smile was fake and my dread thinly veiled. What a time to be alive.
From the top of the mountain, I did notice two distinct types of people. In the first, people were cracking open beers and taking pictures, holding signs, donning their sponsorship clothes and looking invigorated for Instagram pictures, no doubt uploaded at Beau Jo’s where they enjoyed more beer. The second group was more conspicuous, like the wife near me who quietly wept and ignored her husband’s consoling pats on her back. We were kindred spirits, she and I.
I would love to say that I am so glad we officially summited and the accomplishment was something to be proud of. I would also love to say that I was changed for the better on that mountaintop, that I understand myself and the world a little bit deeper, and I can see hardships and challenges from a perspective that allows me to push on.
But, alas. Today at Crossfit, I was attempting a rope climb. I got less than a foot from the top, and I allowed the looming descent to influence me. I sloppily slid down the rope, and I never quite made it that high for the rest of the workout. I could have pushed myself to the top, but I didn’t, and I have a rope burn to show for it.
I’m still no expert at hard things, still not stoked about rising to the challenge. Kudos to all of the genuinely perky and inspirational people out there, filling our feeds with smiles and motivating words. For the rest of us, let’s just try to show up and be honest about our experience, even if we flounder and grumble.
So, about the mountain. I guess I’m glad I did it, but I’m not sure I would do it again. Too hard. How’s that for motivational?