Recently I came face to face with failure. It didn’t seem like such a big deal because it had to do with a hike. I have headed back on a trail without finishing before, but this was something I was determined to accomplish…and didn’t.
On Saturday I set out to hike Picketpost Mtn on the Tonto National Forest, close to Superior, AZ. Those who are familiar with this hike know that it is a hard one, mostly because you have to rock scramble on loose, crumbly rock and steep terrain. I was woefully unprepared.
Loaded up with water, my camera, lenses, and lacking the right shoes to keep a grip on the boulders, I set out on the trail. I’m used to quick elevation climbs at this point, so the gain wasn’t causing me any issues. I thought, this must be why so many people turn back, because of the steep climb. Who knew? As I climbed, the views became more dramatic and expansive. The weather swirled in the distance and the wind swept the desert scrub and tiny wildflowers.
I stopped at several key points to take some photos and realized that I had too much weight on my pack to be balanced. I had to be especially careful not to slip and to move my weight from back to front, as not to pull myself backwards.
Why did I want to do this hike on an impulse? I knew that it was a challenge and I have known a few of my friends to do it, but it was much more than that.
I wanted to set out to find some reserve within myself to make me feel good enough again.
Again? Have I ever?
There are times in my life that I have felt on top of the game – what game – the game of feeling better than or at least equal to. Mostly, I have always felt like I never measured up and related to anyone, like I missed the instructions that allow me to finish things with confidence and success as I saw my peers do.
I’m what you might call a Jill of All Trades. I am just okay enough to do many things, but never that superstar that gets kudos. As I get older, I don’t get the attention I used to get from men, and the women I know are so wrapped up in trying to work and raise kids, few of us can do that bonding to help bolster each other up.
We all struggle with feeling like we’re lacking something. The hole of the soul we might fill with the thrill of the chase, alcohol or drugs, a winning streak, that final triumph of a pursuit that goes well. Now that I am sober, who or what can fill that eternal void of the restless soul? What can define me?
These are the questions of an unprepared woman looking for answers.
On the nasty precipice of that mountain, I had a fast fall when my footing gave way to loose rock.
I slid down quickly.
It all happened and I had NO control. Gravity did her job.
My blessing was a strong Manzanita tree who cradled me, cut and bruised, but still intact. I was able to gather my wits and crab-crawl my way to a safer bench.
You would think I would have thrown in the towel after that, but no. I climbed and tripped, cried and inched my way up and away into the setting clouds until I could no longer take it. I was hurting and scared. The storm was coming in and dark would soon be upon me, and there was no way I wanted to navigate that mountain in the darkness.
I came back down to the ground without completing the climb.
I am still disappointed, but I realized some lessons through all of this.
- Failing means you actually are doing something that challenges you. I am willing to take a risk.
- Stubborn pride and unrelenting ego are formidable foes. Being humble is being teachable.
- My worth is only defined by me. What you think of me is none of my business, nor should it be.
- If I act as if I am someone who is already whole, I am. What a paradox! Thinking about the ways I am not *there yet* only result in mental gymnastics. My actions change my thoughts.
- If it isn’t required and doesn’t bring me joy, don’t do it. Life is full of necessary pains, so why add to it? Have some fun.
And, on that note, I bought myself some fun socks: