I stared up the hill and really didn’t know if I could do it. I have the lung capacity of a hamster and I was already sitting at over 12,500 feet. And while I may be a good yogi, my leg strength is wimpy. Chickens are stronger. I cry during squats.
But at the top of that 30 minute climb was a powder bowl and a view of the Rockies. And more importantly, I wanted to prove that I could do the climb. I wanted to get off the groomers and push my personal limits. I was doing it on my own, which made the challenge even better. No one was talking me into it. This choice was all mine.
I started up the hill, joining a line of trekkers with their skies and boards hoisted over their shoulders. My expression probably matched what I saw in theirs: rueful and grim determination. I hunched forward against the severe pitch of the hill go keep my balance. With every step, I shoved the toe of my boot deep into the snow to find purchase on the slope. Even so, I slid back several times, and one time fell forward onto my knees. The thin air took a toll on my hamster lungs; I had to stop every twenty steps for some good open-mouth gasping. About two thirds of the way up the climb, I realized that the summit that I had been pursuing was false: after a tiny plateau, there was more of the hill to go.
It was my personal Everest.*
When I made it to the top, I grinned like an idiot even as I sprawled out into the snow to recover. When I finally got to my feet, the view from the top was spectacular, the Colorado Rockies ringed the view like a necklace. The powder in the bowl would also prove to be epic (at one point I screamed, “It’s so fluffy!” like the crazed girl from Despicable Me). But the true triumph of that afternoon was climbing that hill. I was proud that I had chosen to do something that I knew would be tough simply for the joy and experience of pushing my own limits.
In our daily lives, we can become slowly swaddled by self-limiting beliefs that are cozy, but confining. We become habituated to who we think we are and what we think we can do. When we take up the call to adventure, we elbow our way out of these constraints and create space for a fresh and expansive understanding.We are deliberately setting off into Terra Incognita in order to experience ourselves freshly in a new world. However, when we embark upon an adventure (whether’s it’s travelling to a far off country, raising a child, writing a book, or climbing a snowy hill), we can never control how it goes. We may fail, we may flourish. But the attempt reveals our capacity to stretch our wings wide and try.
I invite 2017 to be your year of adventure.
Adventures of all sizes will do: trying salsa dancing, taking on a new fashion, meditating, trying a sport, meeting one new person a day, or navigating a challenging conversation. Every adventure – small or large – expands our range of personal possibility.
Step into Terra Incognita – arms wide open – and reach towards the edges of the your own wonderful, wide world!
*Humbling fun fact: Everest is twice as high.