My favorite part of traveling is taking advantage of the outdoors wherever I visit. I’m very blessed to be able to have some free time on my work trips, and I absolutely take advantage of that. So while I was in Utah, I knew I had to enjoy the mountains with hiking.
I did a little research on trails and decided The Living Room Hike would be the best in terms of difficulty and time to do the hike round trip. After parking along the road and getting situated, I started the hike. The first 1/10th of a mile was fine, until I couldn’t find the path to the trail. It took a few back and forth and asking another person where the trail was before I actually got on the trail. And isn’t that a metaphor for life? My whole hike I realized was the physical manifestation of our journey of life and our challenges with personal growth. We get started on our trail, thinking we know where we’re headed only to be turned around at the start. It’s only when we stop, reassess where we are and ask for help can we really get started.
The trail was fairly busy, so I saw couples, girl friends, families, people with dogs – all kinds of folks taking advantage of the outdoors. I was so confident as I started. My legs felt strong and powerful. And within about 10 minutes, I was panting. I felt like my body couldn’t possibly last the whole trip. My lungs felt heavy and mentally I struggled with even thinking I could make it.
At one point, I couldn’t go more than 10 steps without having to stop and catch my breath. Very clearly, I am out of shape. (Also just for stats, it’s 2.5 miles round trip with ~1,000 ft elevation gain.) But even more than that, I recognized this is how I approach life. I keep going, keep pushing myself but I have to take breaks. I have to allow myself time to breathe to give my body and mind the space to rest.
“Am I there yet?”
By the time I got about halfway through the hike, which coincidentally was the start of a very steep incline, I said out loud (with no one around of course) “I can’t do this. I can’t go on. I don’t know how much longer I have and I’m dying. My body won’t let me continue.” But as I saw groups of people pass me – old couples, families with small kids – I knew I couldn’t give up and turn around. I had challenged myself to do this hike because I knew I could do it, despite me going at a much slower pace than everyone else on the trail.
In life, we all reach a point where we have to stop and make a decision. Do we decide it’s too hard and we quit, or do we push through that challenge and force ourselves to keep going. Your ‘it’ can be whatever you struggle with – weight loss, making it through college, finding your career, relationships – but the same holds true across any of these areas. How often have you given up because the incline was too steep, the terrain too rough? How often do you doubt your body or mind’s ability to get you to the summit?
I finally made it past the halfway point and onto a landing which overlooked the Salt Lake Valley. Part of me convinced myself that this view was beautiful enough and I could turn around. But the other side of my brain said “NO, you WILL keep going. It’s going to be worth it.” I saw in the distance people on their descent and hated that I had so far to go to get to the top. Pausing every 10-20 steps continued until I rounded a corner. There had to have been a part of me knew that I was close. I finally reached a flat section of trail and that motivated me to keep pushing.
Rounding a corner after the flat section, I saw and heard people. I knew I had made it – I climbed the short section to the top and took the biggest breath I took the entire journey – I had made it. And the views were worth all of the challenge, all of the struggles I felt along the way.
If I had given up, I wouldn’t be proud of myself. I never would have had the satisfaction of making it to the top. Resting for about 30 minutes, taking deep breaths and enjoying the bliss of making the journey, I knew the only thing left was to head back down the way I came. And yes, going down was so much easier, and quicker. I made my way down with a smile on my face the entire time because I knew I had done it. I had reached my goal.
As I passed a couple on their way up, I could tell the girl was struggling. I let her know she only had halfway to go. I told her she could make it, I knew she could. And I could tell she needed to hear that, because turned to her partner and said “She has more confidence in me than you do!” I think it’s important in our journey to help others. To let them know they’re making it and if they just keep going, they can make it too.
I finally made it back to my car and couldn’t have been more excited to sit, in A/C. I was hungry, tired and physically exhausted. But so proud of myself. Thinking of how the hike is a metaphor for life, I realized I needed to keep going on my weight loss journey. It’s the hardest challenge I’ve ever faced in my life, and I definitely can see the moments I’ve stopped to take my breath. I see those moments where I’ve told myself ‘Just give up. You can’t do this. It’s too hard.’ I keep going. I keep pushing and I keep climbing because deep down, I know the view from the top is worth it.
So my question to you is – what is your hike? What challenges do you face with your personal growth? How have you struggled but kept pushing yourself towards the goal?